Fire at Vail Meadows Equestrian Center - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

10 horses dead after barn fire at equestrian center

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They specialize in therapeutic horse riding for children with special needs and adults with disabilities. Now they're starting over, after an early morning fire destroyed a barn at Vail Meadows, a therapy riding center on Cedar Point Road in Oregon.

Inside the barn, ten of the special therapy horses did not make it out alive.

The horses were specially trained animals that provide a unique form of treatment.

Ten of the horses, nearly all of them, died in the fire.

"The average horse, to get it to a point where you can put a special needs person on them, I mean, it takes years," says Mike McGee.

Around 3:40 a.m. Thursday morning, Oregon firefighters say someone driving down Cedar Point Road saw the flames. The barn was soon fully engulfed and the animals were lost in the fire.

"We had a pot-bellied pig named Wilbur. We had a couple of ducks. I think their names were Cracker and Cheese. They're all dead," says McGee.

"It is a great loss to our community and, of course, the kids that have been available for its use out here," says Oregon Fire Chief Ed Ellis.

The State Fire Marshall's Office will now take over the investigation. They'll try to determine what caused the fire inside the barn, which had electricity but no heat.

Those at Vail Meadows say they will continue to serve as a therapy riding center with "Yuma," the one horse that was out back instead of in the barn.

Coincidentally, Yuma was the horse that started the program in the 1990s.

"The program will go on. We're not done. We'll rise up out of this. It'll be tough, but we'll make it," says McGee.

Employees say, once they are up and running again they will be contacting clients to let them know.

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