My day started yesterday with horrific news: A trainer friend, one who sometimes rides my horse for me, lost his barn and seven horses--ones I thought of as equine friends--to a fire that consumed the structure beyond rescue within minutes. He lost his own stallion, as well as horses owned by clients. Five of the surviving horses are being treated at a nearby vet clinic for related injuries, and all his gear and equipment for making a living is gone.
The fire is believed to have started near the water heater that provided washrack water to the barn. With all the combustibles so common to barns--hay, bedding, dust, cobwebs, wooden framework, and the like--it only takes one little spark, or a few wet and overheating bales of hay, or a pile of oil-soaked rags, for a tragedy like this to occur. I know a little something about it firsthand, because my parents' horse barn incinerated itself in my college years. Probable cause? The aforementioned overheating damp hay.
I had a deadline to meet yesterday, so I couldn't do what I wanted to do--drop everything and rush to hug my friend. But in between hammering out article sentences and paragraphs, I used my considerable means of desktop communication to help rally the support of other horse people. I wasn't the only one. By noon, crisis funds were set up at area banks, benefit schooling shows had been set up for the next couple of weekends, and empathetic fellow horse owners were gathering up spare tack, horse blankets, bales of hay, stable equipment, etc., to provide to our wiped-out friend.
I won't go into barn-fire prevention tips here--you can get those with a simple Google search. Suffice to say, if there's any little fire-prevention chore you've been MEANING to "get around to," please go out today and get it handled. As I know all too well, each of us is only that one little spark away from a barn-fire tragedy of our own. And trust me--you never, ever want to see one.