Noise of horses trying to escape stable fire alerts owner

DESTROYED: A fire at a property along Gap Rd at Alstonville burnt down a shed connected to horse stables.
DESTROYED: A fire at a property along Gap Rd at Alstonville burnt down a shed connected to horse stables. Marc Stapelberg

HAD Dawn McKenzie not paid close attention to the sounds she thought were horses "carrying on" in the stables, there may have been more lost than tools and machinery.

The dressage trainer was woken up by the noise just before 4am yesterday to discover a fire had broken out in the shed and stables.

"Dawn had woken up and she heard this crackin' and banging and we just thought it was horses kicking in the stables and the next thing she looked out the window and she could see this big glow," Dawn's husband, John Harrison, said.

As soon as the couple raced outside, Mr Harrison said they could see a "glow of fire" from the shed.

"We thought of the horses that were at the other end, so we both raced down and got the horses out," he said.

After rescuing the horses, the pair tried to remove as much gear as they could from the stables at the other end of the fire, but eventually had to stop due to smoke.

Mr Harrison said it was fortunate there were only two horses in the stables instead of the usual four.

"It could have been a lot worse," Ms McKenzie said. "If it had of taken all the stables the horses wouldn't have survived."

Mr Harrison and Ms McKenzie said they had lived on the property for about four-and-a-half years.

They purchased the 11-hectare macadamia planation and converted it into Sunrise Dressage Stables where they train and breed dressage horses.

Richmond Local Area Command Inspector Bill McKenna said the estimated damage bill was about $150,000 and included farm equipment, tools, quad bikes and a horse float.

He said the fire was being treated as non-suspicious and would be investigated by police and NSW Fire and Rescue.

Son Julian Mattison phoned emergency services about 4am and the Alstonville, Wardell and Lennox Head Rural Fire Service crews responded, along with the Alstonville brigade of NSW Fire and Rescue, and NSW Ambulance. 

Mr Harrison and Ms McKenzie said they thought it might have been started by an electrical fault.

Unfortunately, the shed and stables were not insured.

Both were treated for smoke inhalation but no one was injured.

Topics:  emergency services fire horse horses

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