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Fire destroys fairgrounds horse barn

Flames consume the horse stable at the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds in Woodstock this morning. This view is from the southbound Interstate 81 off ramp at the Woodstock exit. Rich Cooley/Daily

Strasburg firefighters carry air bottles past sulky carts in the heavy smoke at the fairgrounds in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily

Edinburg firefighter John Hollar moves charred debris from the horse barn. Rich Cooley/Daily

Flames consume the west end of the horse barn. Rich Cooley/Daily

Spectators near a plume of black smoke form a silhouette in front of the early morning sun. Rich Cooley/Daily

Firefighters move charred debris from the horse barn. Rich Cooley/Daily

Betsy Brown, a horse trainer from Woodstock, talks on her cell phone in the midst of smoke. Rich Cooley/Daily

A firefighter pokes through smoldering remains of the horse stables at the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds in Woodstock early Thursday morning. Rich Cooley/Daily

T.J. Miller, an Edinburg volunteer firefighter, holds a fire hose as flames consume the horse barn at the fairgrounds in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily

Woodstock volunteer firefighter Charles Folkes walks past fire debris at the fairgrounds in Woodstock as the sun rises. Rich Cooley/Daily

Woodstock firefighter Hunter Kibler stands near the flames from the horse barn fire. Rich Cooley/Daily

By Sally Voth

An early Thursday morning fire destroyed most of the horse barn at the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds.

Firefighters arrived on the scene just before 6:30 a.m., Woodstock Fire Capt. Phil Hottel said.

"We could see the fire as we came down Main Street, and we called for additional resources," he said as the remnants of the stables smoldered.

Pieces of the tin roof lay twisted on top of the barn's remains.

Only one horse was in the barn at the time, and it was saved by its owner, Shenandoah County Fair Association President Terry Kibler said.

"He happened to go get Valentine's stuff for the family, and he was at Wal-Mart," Kibler said. "Looked across there and [saw] the flames."

Horses are boarded at the fairgrounds and trained on the racetrack, but during winter most are gone, he said.

"It just so happened it's wintertime," Kibler said. "Two months later, if this had been April, it would've been a lot worse."

Later on Thursday, he said two dogs that lived in the barn and that had belonged to a worker died in the fire.

Thirty stalls burned down, but 12 were saved - with some of those salvaged at either end of the barn.

"It's all wood construction, very old," Hottel said. "We were probably lucky we saved that much of it. We had some minor damage to homes behind. Very minor to one, and a little bit more to another. It melted siding on the shed.

"We checked all the stables to make sure they were empty. That was our first priority when we got here, make sure there weren't any horses in the stables and protect exposures, which were the homes."

He said firefighters would be on the scene for several hours, pulling tin off the remains of the barn to put out hot spots.

Firefighters left the scene just before noon, according to a new release from Shenandoah County Department of Fire and Rescue.

Besides Woodstock Fire Department, crews from Woodstock Rescue, Edinburg, Toms Brook, Conicville, Strasburg, New Market and Shenandoah County Department of Fire Rescue responded to the scene, as did town workers, Woodstock and state police officers and the power company, Hottel said.

He said the fire is under investigation.

Luray Volunteer Fire and Rescue helped provide coverage to New Market, and Middletown Volunteer Fire and Rescue helped cover Toms Brook due to the Woodstock fire and a fire that occurred at about the same time in Fort Valley, according to the release.

Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or svoth@nvdaily.com


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