Last week I drove through Verndale, Minnesota on my way out to Medora, North Dakota, for a week of horseback riding and I noticed there is a new barn and office complex almost completed on the spot where there was a tragic barn fire last December.
My neighbor is a Fire Marshall and was involved in trying to discover the cause of that fire where 40 horses ultimately lost their lives. It was a long and involved investigation, taking quite a few months, and unfortunately without a clear cut answer as to the cause. He said that the biggest concern with the Fire Marshall’s office was whether or not arson was involved; it was not.
I had heard many rumors about the cause, among which were that it was started through the careless use of heaters in the stalls or that a faulty extension cord was used. Neither of those rumors proved to be true. The source of the fire was at a heater in the well housing located outside of the barn, but near to it. With the extremely high winds that morning, it didn’t take long at all before the whole barn was engulfed in flames.
It was a tragic accident, but an accident nevertheless. It just emphasizes the importance of having a fire-proof barn and to be constantly vigilant in checking your safety precautions. Of course, no horse barn - or technically, any other structure for that matter - will ever be 100% fire-proof, but there are fire safety checklist items which can help create a safer environment for horses and people in the event there is a fire.