Fire that killed 24 horses in Connecticut ruled accidental

Posted at 5:46 PM, Dec 30, 2017

Twenty four horses have died after a fire at Folly Farm in Simsbury on Thursday morning, authorities said.

The fire broke out around 6:45 a.m., and was concentrated in the barn/stalls where the horses live, on Hartford Road.

None of the horses were able to make it out of the barns, authorities said.

In total, 24 horses died from smoke inhalation, according to a Facebook post from Folly Farm.

“There are no words to express our sorrow this morning. The fire department is still investigating the possible cause of the fire in our arena barn however 24 of our beloved horses have passed away due to smoke inhalation. Our hearts are broken. These horses and our clients are our family,” Folly Farm posted on its Facebook page on Thursday.

The farm continued to say “Most of these horses were part of our Riding School and our Polo School, and three were privately owned. These gentle souls taught hundreds of children and adults how to ride, to play polo, and to love through the years. They were the heart and soul of Folly Farm and of our lives.”

There were no injuries to firefighters or any other people.

On Friday, fire officials said they believe the most probable cause of the fire is accidental, caused by a plug connected to a heater that kept the pipes from freezing.

“We believe that it started as a smoldering fire several hours before the call to FD. The interior second-floor mezzanine had collapsed prior to FD arrival and the animals had succumbed to the smoke,” Simsbury Deputy Chief and Fire Marshal Kevin Kowalski said on Friday.

Horse owners were debriefed by the deputy chief Thursday morning.

“She was amazing, she was beautiful and so sweet,” said Andrew Davis, who once worked at the barn and also owned a horse there, Colombiana. “I’m going to miss her a lot. I was planning on visiting her today.”

While they prepare for cold weather, the deputy fire chief said it’s harder to be prepared for 5-degree weather. The deputy fire told Channel 3 they had plenty of water, but he added the water was freezing on them.

“The water is freezing up and everything was slippery, firefighters did a tremendous job, given the circumstances,” Kowalski said on Thursday.

The Simsbury Fire Department received mutual aide from Avon firefighters. There were 35 firefighters called to the scene.

Route 185 was closed from Nod Road to Bloomfield town line, but the road has since reopened.

According to Simsbury Deputy Fire Chief and Fire Marshall Kevin Kowalski, sprinkler systems are not necessarily required in barns, but they may have made a difference.

“It’s very possible it would have made a big difference,” Kowalski said.

There are 19 other horses housed in another barn that were not hurt.