Tenants of the farm where a barn fire erupted early Thursday morning are asking the public for help in replacing 300 bales of hay that were lost, so they can continue to feed their animals.
Amanda and Jeff Forde, who rent the property in the 3400 block of 240 Street, woke up in a panic at 5:30 a.m. on Dec. 29 to the sound of their neighbours pounding on the door and screaming that their barn was on fire.
Jeff ran outside in his underwear and rubber boots to rescue the three horses trapped inside, just minutes before the entire structure was engulfed.
“If he had got dressed, my three horses that lived in that barn, they would have been dead,” Amanda told the Times.
“But he just went out in his rubber boots and sliding across the ice at 5:30 in the morning just to turn them loose. And I was just screaming, ‘Just turn them loose!’ Because in two minutes, the whole barn just engulfed in flames, because there’s all that hay that had been sitting there dry since the summer.
“I told him he was my hero and he started crying.”
The couple have 11 horses on the property, four of which are Amanda’s, and the other seven are rescues or retirees that they’ve taken in for boarding.
The barn has been completely destroyed, and although they do have insurance, Amanda said it does not cover the hay or feed.
That’s why she has created a GoFundMe page, with the hope of raising $5,000 to purchase more hay — which in the winter sells at an elevated price — until the first cut in the spring.
“I’m so overwhelmed — and I don’t ask for help, (but) I don’t know what else to do,” Amanda said.
“I need enough hay to get me to the first cut. I’m not asking for help for me, I’m asking for them (her horses).”
Amanda said the fire department was called out to the property again today (Friday), after her father saw flames shooting out of the destroyed barn. That fire was quickly contained, she added.
Through the whole ordeal, Amanda says she is most thankful that no one was hurt.
“I’m so blessed. We’re really lucky that we didn’t lose anyone,” she said.
Along with the three horses, there were two rescue cats from Alaska — Fluffy and Kitty — who were living inside the barn. They had disappeared yesterday, but came back to the property today, Amanda said. She was quite worried about them, as they are relatively new to the property, and are still skittish after having their tails freeze off prior to being rescued.
There was also a resident barn owl, Toot, whose partner, Hoot, had recently passed away, that has not been seen yet, Amanda added.
According to the Township fire department, all seven fire halls had to be called in to fight the Thursday morning fire “because we had to tanker shuttle water in to fight the fire,” Assistant Fire Chief Bruce Ferguson said.
A section of 240 Street was blocked off most of the morning.
Ferguson was unable to comment on the cause of the fire, as the investigation is still underway, however Amanda noted on her GoFundMe page that it was electrical.
“No way we could have known … Inspector said dampness (which where we live has a lot) can sometimes creep in,” she wrote.
Amanda also said she had been grabbing hay in the very spot where it began the night before and “nothing was out of the ordinary.”
For more information, or to make a donation, visit https://www.gofundme.com/hay-barn-burnt-down?rcid.
— with files from Monique Tamminga
Photos submitted by Amanda Forde