24 horses die in Simsbury barn fire

SIMSBURY, Conn. (WTNH)– The owners of a Simsbury farm say 24 horses were killed after a serious fire broke out on Thursday morning.

Fire officials responded to a blaze in an arena barn at Folly Farm, at 75 Hartford Road, just before 7 a.m. The horses died of smoke inhalation.

“We responded out and found fire active on two sides of the building,” said Deputy Chief Kevin Kowalski of the Simsbury Fire Department.

Most of the horses were part of the farm’s riding and polo schools; three were privately owned. There were 19 horses in other barns that the fire did not affect.

Peter Neidle stopped by Folly Farm to check on his friend’s horse.

“I was relieved that it wasn’t the barn where that horse is, but of course I still feel bad,” he said. “Obviously it’s a terrible situation.”

Crews blocked off the entrance to the farm as they investigated and put out hot spots. Officials believe the fire began in the storage room in the center of the stall area. The fire marshal is investigating and believes the fire may have started accidentally after smoldering for hours.

The cold weather made their job more challenging.

“The water’s freezing up. Everything’s being slippery,” said Kowalski. “Firefighters are doing a tremendous job under the circumstances.”

The Simsbury Fire Department had help from nearby towns’ fire departments, including Avon.

The public is heartbroken.

“I just felt horrible because they’re such beautiful animals,” said Neidle. “They take such good care of them. I was quite surprised.”

Folly Farm took to its Facebook page to give an update on the situation.

Route 185 was closed from Nod Road to the Bloomfield border because of the fire, but the road was reopened later in the morning.