Deadly fire at farm northwest of Omaha determined to be accidental
Fire crews from more than a dozen fire departments in four counties called to barn near Bennington
ELK CITY, Neb. (WOWT) - Investigators with the Nebraska Fire Marshal Agency say Thursday’s deadly fire at a horse barn was accidental. The fire’s cause remains under investigation.
It claimed the lives of one person and nine horses. According to a news release Thursday night, the person’s identity is being withheld pending the notification of next of kin.
Officials said one firefighter was taken to a hospital with burns from fighting the fire at the large facility.
“We’re estimating it to be about 35,000 to 40,000 square feet,” Waterloo Fire Chief Travis Harlow said.
“It’s a big horse arena,” said Greg Classen, who lives across the road from the horse barn. “There’s several stables, and then three apartments inside the building.”
The fire call came in at 6:25 a.m. west of 225th Street and Dutch Hall Road. By 10 a.m., Douglas County Sheriff’s Lt. Tim Owens said fire crews had the fire at the horse stable contained but were still fighting flames and hot spots.
“Flames were on the west side of the building and the east side of the building,” Classen said. “(I) know they store hay and bulk shavings on the east side.”
A picture provided by a responding crew not long after the fire started showed the blaze burning through a large barn. There were neighbors rushing in trying to save some of the horses, too.
“Kind of got into gear and went over and started rounding up horses and seeing if we could pull them out or not,” Classen said.
Neighbors lent a hand trying to get the horses out but at some point, the fire was too hot.
“We have 10 of the horses that it made it out of the interior stalls — we have 10 of those horses in our barn and those are the only ones that made it out of the barn,” Classen said. “They’re not in very good shape.”
The fire marshal’s office says the horses suffered serious injuries.
Nebraska Equine was on the scene offering triage to injured animals. A group of veterinarians is caring for the surviving horses.
Firefighters also had to fight the cold weather and cope with a remote location.
“We were shuttling water from about six miles away and the turnaround time for that,” Harlow said.
6 News was kept back from the scene early Thursday but saw first-responders from Kennard, Yutan, Valley, Fremont, Bennington, and Ralston at the scene.
HOW TO HELP
The Omaha Equestrian Foundation is helping to funnel donations to Heartland Farms.
Those wishing to donate are asked to visit OEF’s donation page, and select “To benefit Heartland Farms/Cudmore” on its donation form.
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