Community rallies around grieving owners of 14 horses killed in barn fire
In the aftermath of the three-alarm blaze, students and their parents have rallied around owner Harriet Finks and her daughter, Elissa, providing them with the same comfort and support provided to them during horseback riding lessons.
Amy Ats’ 9-year-old daughter, Morgan, signed up for lessons about five months ago because she was struggling socially.
“She needed something to get away from some friends at school,” Amy said, and she bonded immediately with both the horses and the Finks.
The Ats family was devastated to hear about the blaze that killed 14 horses, three cats and destroyed the farm’s 10,000-square-foot barn, and they are helping the Finks in whatever way they can.
Other families of the riding center have been visiting the Finks at their home on the property, some every day.
Ats said many are upset about the loss of the animals they’ve grown close to, and are looking to provide solace to the Finks, who said the horses were like family to them.
“Right now, it’s really about keeping her company,” Ats said. “Their life came crashing down last week.”
When a chore needs to be done, there are volunteers on hand ready to help, whether it’s to put away the many donations the farm has received, or to clean the stalls for resident mini stallion Puffy and the farm’s mascot, Miss Colby, a pig who was rescued from the fire.
“We are overwhelmed by the good deeds of so many,” Finks said.
It is unclear whether or not the barn will be rebuilt, said Ats.
“We parents have asked flat out if she’s going to rebuild,” Ats said, “but she just doesn’t know yet.”
In a prepared statement, Elissa Finks said insurance is not likely enough to cover a rebuilding of the barn or the loss of 25 years’ worth of equipment.
A fund has been established at TD Bank for the Finks.
The remaining eight horses have been sent to a friend of the Finks’, after the horses that perished were buried together late last week at an undisclosed location.
Elissa Finks expressed her gratitude for the community support she and her mother have received since the fire.
“My mother, Harriet, and I would like to extend our deepest gratitude for the outpouring of support everyone has shown us. I have no words to describe what we are feeling – our life as we have known it has come to a horrific and sudden halt,” she said.
Finks went on to say that the horses that perished died of smoke inhalation and passed peacefully.
“They all led full and happy lives, filled with purpose and good care, to the bitter end,” she said.
The eight remaining horses were examined by a vet and are in good health.
Ats said Finks has seen many cars slow down as they go by the property, and encourages people to stop and pay a visit.
“They welcome anybody to the property,” she said. “They can just come by and say hi.”
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