Rescue centre devastated by yard fire: ‘The damage was atrocious’

An equine rescue centre has been left devastated after a fire “wiped out” their entire yard.

The blaze broke out at Elverra Pony Rescue, a voluntary organisation in Sturbridge, Staffordshire, on Monday (12 August) morning, owing to a faulty generator.

Founder and yard manager Sheila Bailey told H&H: “The alarm was raised after a diesel can exploded and staff at a boarding kennels heard the noise. I was working a night shift and received a call at 7.55am telling me what had happened.

“When I arrived the fire services wouldn’t let us near but you could see the smoke for miles. The hay barn caught light and was destroyed. We lost all 10 stables, the feed store, the tack room, the office – everything is gone apart from my mobile home.”

One pony and two dogs were rescued by fire crews, but no animals were injured in the fire.

“One pony, Rosie, was on box rest for lameness and was rescued by the fire brigade before her stable went up. The other horses and ponies had been out in a paddock,” said Sheila.

“The damage was absolutely atrocious. When I saw the devastation I thought ‘what are we going to do?’. Next year is our 10-year anniversary and all I could think was ‘that’s gone now’.”

Sheila said the support from strangers has helped them “get through”.

“People from all over the country have been fantastic – we’ve had donations from everywhere. Having seen the state some of the horses and ponies arrive with us in it can make you question humans, but this has restored my faith,” said Sheila.

“A group of people who we have never met turned up the day after the fire and asked how they could help. There wasn’t much we could do at that point so they poo-picked the fields for us. The support has been brilliant.”

Sheila said the centre hopes to rebuild the stables in time for winter.

“Most of our ponies are natives and cobs who can live out, but we have two thoroughbreds who will need stabled over winter. The shock has now worn off and the committee has been here all week while we decided where we go from here and set about rebuilding,” she said.

“We can’t thank the fire brigade enough for their help – without them we would have absolutely nothing. We’ve all pulled together and we’re getting there.”

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A spokesman for Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service said crews attended from Stafford, Stone, Newcastle Eccleshall and Penkridge stations along with a water carrier from Cheadle station.

Fire investigation officer Paul Shaw said: “We found the fire was caused accidentally due to a faulty generator. The stables were well alight when the crews arrived and it would appear the blaze had been burning for some time. Fortunately the firefighters managed to prevent the fire spreading further towards the static caravan that the owners lived in. However the rest of the farm is totally destroyed.

“Thankfully no one was injured during this incident and all the animals were lead to safety quickly. It is however a massive loss to the owners who have lost the majority of their yard.”

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