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Memorial set for horses killed in barn fire

Post by Mike Archbold on Dec. 17, 2008 at 4:19 pm with 1 Comment »
December 17, 2008 4:19 pm

Pierce County 4-H will hold a memorial Monday for the 15 horses that were killed last week at the boarding stable fire in the Summit area of Pierce County.

Lori Grohs, who coordinates the 4-H horse program in Pierce County, said the memorial is an effort to offer support to all the owners of the dead horses and their families. At least four of the horses were owned by 4-H members, including a 4-H adult leader, she said.

The memorial will be held at 7 p.m. at the Real Life Family Center, 17708 28th Ave. East, in the Spanaway area. Grohs said the center donated their building for the memorial.

"We are asking the owners or their family members to write something about their horses," she said. Each horse will have a poster board to display poems and photographs, she said.

"We will eulogize each horse with what is written," she said.

Central Pierce Fire and Rescue firefighters who responded to the Dec. 11 fire at Eckstein Farms boarding stable also are invited. Groh said they will be recognized at the memorial for their fighting the fire and caring for horse owners who came to the scene.

The hot fire spread quickly into the 5 tons of hay stored in the barn and enveloped the barn in black smoke. No one could get inside to open stall doors. A space heater in a tack room tipped over and ignited the fire, according to the county Fire Marshal investigator.

Grohs said the tragedy has affected the large Pierce County horse community deeply. She said her horse program alone has 300 youth ages 9-19 and is the second largest county 4-H program in the state.

"There is something different about losing a horse this way," she said. Grohs has nine horses of her own on her property in the Eatonville area. "I love my dogs and cats but there is something that gets to your soul when you lose a horse. It’s a mystery.

"Horses die of broken legs and colic but this is something you can’t explain. How do you explain this to a kid?"

Grohs said they also plan to put together a number of fund raisers in the next few months to help the horse owners pay expenses of disposing of their horses and buy new equipment such as saddles lost in the fire.

The story of the fire has prompted a number of calls to The News Tribune from horse owners who want to donate horses to those who lost them.

Grohs said anyone wanting to donate a horse to a 4-H student or help the victims with expenses can call her at 360-832-6744.

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