Stable fire in which horses died was arson

PUBLISHED: 15:41 28 March 2008 | UPDATED: 13:08 06 May 2010

Nicki with her horse Matisse

Nicki with her horse Matisse

A FIRE which killed two horses in their stables last week is being treated as arson. Fire investigators have ruled out an accidental cause to the blaze at Pursley Farm in Shenley during the early hours of Wednesday morning and police are now appealing for

Evie riding Rosie

A FIRE which killed two horses in their stables last week is being treated as arson.

Fire investigators have ruled out an accidental cause to the blaze at Pursley Farm in Shenley during the early hours of Wednesday morning and police are now appealing for information.

Firefighters were called to the blaze in London Road but it was too late to save the animals, Matisse, aged 16, and Rosie, 10, who were both trapped inside the blazing stables.

The farm has been run by Shenley parish councillor Stewart Hunter for more than 40 years and his son Jimmy and daughter-in-law Nicki also live on the site with their daughter and two sons.

Matisse, a Welsh-cross-Arab, belonged to Nicki, and her 14-year-old daughter Evie owned Rosie, a Connemara.

The stables were built just six-months-ago so that the horses could be kept on the farm rather than at a yard elsewhere.

A heartbroken Nicki said: "They were very kind. They were part of the family, very much so. I keep looking at the clock and thinking that I need to bring the horses in as it's just such a big part of our lives. I don't know what I'm going to do with all the spare time."

On the night of the fire one of the family's three dogs, which is kept outside, woke them up barking excitedly.

When Nicki looked outside she couldn't see anything and assumed there had been a fox on the prowl for one of the chickens, and brought the dog inside.

She returned to bed but shortly afterwards she and Jimmy heard popping as the fire took hold. A neighbour had already raised the alarm.

Nicki said: "I looked out and the whole window was just orange. I got half way down the garden and the heat just pushed me back."

Her father-in-law, Stewart Hunter, said: "The person who set light to it was only intent on getting to the horses."

The stable was completely gutted and has now been demolished.

Detective Sergeant Steve Angell said: "This was a thoughtless crime that resulted in the death of two defenceless animals and I would urge anyone who knows anything to please come forward to police."

Anyone with information should contact 0845 33 00 222 or alternatively call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

The incident follows two other fires at local farms with equestrian stables in the last seven months.

The first was in October when 30 horses had to be rescued after a barn at Little Munden Farm in Bricket Wood was set on fire by arsonists, and the second was in November when four horses had to be rescued from a barn blaze at Pound Farm in Sandridge.

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