TORONTO, CANADA (CBC/CNN) – The raging flames shot through the roof of the big barn, swallowing up Sunnybrook Stables.
As its wooden beams collapsed, 16 horses were trapped inside. None survived.
The Monday morning fire in Toronto devastated a community of horse owners and trainers. Thanks to the quick thinking of police officers on the scene, though, 13 horses in an adjacent barn were saved.
Fire officials described the nature of the fire as “defensive,” one where the damage was already done to the first barn by the time they arrived on scene.
When the flames started licking the sides of the second barn, though, with another 13 horses inside, police officers helped them escape.
All while the fire raged just feet away.
"The crews did an excellent job getting the horses out of the second [barn]," said Toronto Fire Platoon Chief Doug Wishart.
The surviving horses have been taken to stables where Toronto police keep their own horses. They’re now safe, but first responders were emotional that there was nothing they could do for the horses that were trapped.
Horse riders meanwhile have descended on Sunnybrook Stables, a tight-knit community moved to tears, some losing horses that lived at the stables.
“It’s just a horrible, horrible situation. You know we're hearing from friends, asking us what’s going on, and it just shows everybody is so, so close in the equine community,” said one woman.
They’ll now lean on each other, as a stable they called home for decades and horses they called friends are lost.
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