The owner of a stable where 18 horses died in a horrific fire earlier this week has vowed to rebuild the barn in southwest suburban Plainfield.
“Having this stable is my dream and we will rebuild,” Raul Del Real said in a statement released early Saturday. “We will come back even stronger than before.
“We have received an outpouring of support from the community and it has been heart-warming.”
Flames raced through Del Real Stables about 1:15 a.m. on Wednesday at 1120 Wheeler Road, according to Plainfield fire officials. Two passersby saw the blaze and were able to release 12 horses, but 18 died.
“First and foremost, I would like to thank Lori Ayala and Abelardo Ramos for risking their own safety to save the lives of 12 horses and my condolences to the families of the 18 horses that did not make it,” Del Real said.
Damage to the barn was estimated at $300,000, with an additional $240,000 for the horses killed, fire officials said.
The stable has insurance policies for the lost horses and veterinary bills, but the structure wasn’t fully covered, according to Del Real, who set up a GoFundMe campaign looking to raise $150,000.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation. It might have started in a detached semi-trailer next to the stable that was filled with sawdust and wood chips. Straw in the loft of the barn likely accelerated the blaze, Plainfield Deputy Fire Chief Jon Stratton said.
“The fire came in from the west side and ran so fast. I can’t believe how fast it ran,” Stratton said.
Two adults suffered minor injuries, and four surviving horses had to be hospitalized — two with serious burns, according to veterinarian Alison Powers. The other horses suffered superficial wounds.
“The last 24 hours have been the worst time in some of our lives,” Katie Albert, a volunteer trainer at Del Real who lost three horses in the blaze, wrote on the stable’s Facebook page Thursday afternoon. “Many of these horses were not just animals to us, they were our best friends, companions and teammates.”
The stable is seeking donations and supplies, including hay, grain, basic grooming supplies, buckets, blankets, fly spray, helmets, grain containers, vet wrap, pitchforks and hay nets. Anyone who wants to give can call or text (815) 531-4181.
Fox Valley Equine Practice has set up a donation fund to help pay medical bills for the injured horses, and an additional GoFundMe campaign is supporting vet costs for Spencer, the most severely burned surviving horse.