The Essex equestrian community is rallying round after a number of horses died in a livery yard fire.
Passers-by saw the blaze, in a large stable building at the Burnham yard, at after 11pm yesterday (3 December).
They alerted emergency services and did everything possible to save the horses inside, including, it is thought, opening stable doors to allow them to escape the fire.
Essex County Fire and Rescue Service station manager Craig McLellan said: “When firefighters arrived they found the fire was already well developed. The whole building was alight and the roof had collapsed.
“Firefighters worked hard to tackle the fire and stop it from spreading to any other building. However, despite the best efforts of passers-by who managed to save a number of horses from the building, some horses have tragically died at the scene.”
Firefighters remained on the scene all night, and were still there this morning, damping down and checking for hot spots.
A crowdfunding campaign has already raised nearly £2,000 for the affected owners, while Vicki Clark, owner of nearby Westleighs Saddlery, has offered her tack shop as a base for donations.
“They’ve lost everything,” Ms Clark told H&H. “It’s so tragic.
“I’ve got a horsebox so I thought if people want to donate, I can take everything up there in one go, and I’ll donate some items from the shop too.
“It’s so awful. No one knows who it was who saw the fire but it’s amazing how many horses he managed to save.”
Alex Longhurst, who set up the fundraising page, wrote: “Speaking to the people involved this morning is heartbreaking, watching the barn collapse knowing your beloved horses are in there is unimaginable.
“Therefore, we have set up this page to raise as much money as possible for the yard, in order to replace what has been lost, help towards shelters for the horses, and even vets’ bills.”
Essex Police have confirmed the fire is being treated as suspicious and investigations are under way into how it started.