Eighteen horses died in a barn fire early Wednesday morning, July 5, in Plainfield, Illinois, said fire officials.
Firefighters arrived at Del Real Stables around 1:45 a.m., the fire had spread rapidly, even before crews were able to get it under control said Deputy Fire Chief Jon Stratton.
A total of 30 horses were stabled there and 18 of them perished said officials. There were no fire hydrants in the area and water had to be brought in said Stratton.
Two workers doing a routine check on the horses saw the fire and called the police. The workers and the horse owners managed to save 12 horses.
“Without civilians intervening this incident could have been a lot worse,” Plainfield Fire Protection District Chief Dave Riddle said.
It took nearly seven hours for an estimated 70 firefighters from eight nearby towns to fight the fire.
Officials think the fire started in a semitrailer near the barn. The trailer was used to store wood chips and straw. The cause of the fire is still undergoing investigation.
Plainfield Police Chief John Konopek said it was unclear if the fire originated inside or outside the trailer.
Officials looked for evidence of fireworks but did not find any.
“With the Fourth of July, pretty much anywhere you go, there are fireworks being shot. That is something that we are looking at. Right now, we don’t have any indication that fireworks were the cause,” said Konopek.
Two people suffered minor injuries, a sprained ankle and breathing problems. They were taken to a hospital.
Three of the horses that survived the fire were sent to an equine hospital. One had extensive burns on its back, another had burns on its face and back and a third was acting colicky, said equine veterinarian Alison Powers, who was at the scene Wednesday.
“It’s rough,” said Powers.
The horses will likely get worse before they recover said Powers. She plans on monitoring the horses that survived the fire and did not need to go to the hospital, looking for signs of dehydration, stress, and other symptoms.
The horses’ trauma was not only physical, but also psychological, shown by their behavior.
“They lost their friends,” Powers said. “The trauma of getting out of a burning building … any type of stress like this is definitely rough on them.”
Konopek said the owners he spoke to were very emotional.
“Most of these people have had these horses for many, many years,” he said. “They think of them as their children, and as you can imagine (they) are very emotional.
The barn was a total loss said Stratton.
Plainfield officials said they did not recall any issues with the property when it was incorporated.
Steven Mei for NTD Television