I was at work, just before lunch time. A bad storm was moving through, and I was debating whether or not to venture out for lunch. My friend, co-worker, and riding buddy, MaryBeth, came rushing over to my desk. “Firetrucks just got called to the barn!” she said. Her boyfriend is a fireman and heard over the radio that the call had been made for the barn where Liam and MaryBeth’s horse, Vinny (Liam’s best friend) live. I couldn’t quite grasp the concept at first. Someone fell off their horse and got hurt? Who rides during the day? There must be another explanation. I sat there, brain reeling, trying to figure out what could have happened. “Come on!” she snapped me out of it, “If there’s a fire, we have to make sure our boys are ok!” A fire! It dawned on me and panicked me in an instant. I grabbed my jacket and purse and rushed out after her, praying our horses were alright.
When we drove up, a fire truck was parked in front of the barn, and the firemen were milling around, but there was no smoke, or water spraying… or any signs of horses outside. We jumped out of our cars, as a fireman explained that we shouldn’t go in the barn.
The storm had knocked over the pole that held up the power lines, the pole was now leaning on the barn, and the power lines had broken and were laying on the metal roof of the barn… and they were live.
When the pole fell and the wires snapped, there was a brief fire, which alerted the only person in the barn at the time, who called the fire trucks. But the fire burned out quickly and the transistor reset, so for the time being there was no power. But, the fireman warned us, the transistor will cycle and try to restore power, and when it does, those lines laying on the roof will not only send voltage throughout the barn, but pose a very serious fire hazard.
We had to get the horses out. The electric company was coming to turn off the power to the property, but with the storm there were lots of downed lines and we didn’t know where we were on the list. And we didn’t know when it would try to restore power. I went for Liam right away, and the fireman warned me not to touch the walls. “What about the doors?” I asked, trying to think how else I could get the latch on his metal door open. “Do it as fast as you can,” he warned. I grabbed Liam’s halter and lead him out, putting him in a paddock as MaryBeth went to find her horse, and a few other helpers started to grab horses. Then I went back for another, then another, the whole time keeping half an eye on the downed lines. How much time did we have?
There’s almost 40 horses in the barn, and we got them all out, then threw them hay to try to settle them. They all seemed pretty content to hang out outside, as long as another storm didn’t blow in.
Then we waited for the electric company to show up, or the power to come back on. And we waited. And waited. When it seemed that nothing was going to happen right away, MaryBeth and I went back to work, reassured to know our horses were outside well away from the barn.
After work, I went back to the barn, and the power had been shut off without incident. The horses were all happily back in their stalls munching their dinner. There was no power still, so the water wasn’t working. I helped fill the buckets by hand and as we worked, the power company was working to repair the fallen post and downed lines. Thankfully, everything should be up and running again by the end of the night.