Barn fire claims lives of 10 horses
A fire at Drinkard Stables on Indian Hills Road in North Hartselle early Saturday destroyed a barn and claimed the lives of 10 horses, all of which were trapped inside.
Owner Skip Drinkard said four of the horses he lost were being fed and prepped for racing competition next month and the other six were three brood mares with young colts.
“They never had a chance,” he said. “It’s a heartbreaking loss.”
Drinkard discovered the fire shortly before 7 a.m. after he and his wife heard what they said sounded like a gun being discharged or some kind of an explosion. Flames were already coming out of the 21-stall barn when he arrived but he made a valiant attempt to open the front and back doors and save the horses. He had to back away from the front roll-up door because the heat was so intense and then attempt Ed to use his tractor to knock down the rear door. That, too, failed because of the heat, Only later did he realize that the heat singed his hair and blistered his face.
Firefighters from Flint, Priceville and Hartselle responded to the fire and were on the scene for about two hours. An investigation was conducted the same day by the State Fire Marshall’s office; however, no immediate determination was made with respect to the cause.
Drinkard said the fire also destroyed a large number of western and racing saddles and other tack.
“If I had to catch out a horse today, I wouldn’t have anything to do it with,” he said. “The fire wiped us out.”
Drinkard, who serves as president of the Alabama Horseman’s Benevolence and Protection Association, had planned to enter his stallions in races in Ohio and other states next month. One of the races features a $100,000 purse. The five-and six-week old colts had bloodlines from Secretariat another Kentucky Derby winner and represented a new generation of racehorses for Drinkard Stables.
Drinkard said owners insurance will cover part of the loss but it won’t be nearly enough to replace what we had. We haven’t made a decision whether or not we’ll replace the barn and its contents.”
Drinkard said he and his wife Pat received numerous phone calls and emails from sympathetic friends and race horse handlers over the weekend. He also thanked firefighters and neighbors for their assistance. He said Mal Patterson and his son brought heavy equipment to his farm on Sunday and helped with the burial of the horses and removal of the barn’s charred remains,