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How this fire happened

A livery yard succumbed to fire after an incident in a stable block on the site that sadly lead to the death of a number of horses. A store room and a tack room were also destroyed.    

The investigation which followed concluded that the fire had started as a result of an electrical fault in the tack room which contained several electrical appliances.


The stables were well-run and the owner was careful that the appliances were not used unless someone was present in the building, however, even these measures were unable to prevent the devastation of this fire.
The fire started in the middle of the night when nobody was around and it was a neighbour and passing motorist who were first to raise the alarm.


High winds during the night enabled the fire to quickly take hold. Increased air flow ventilated the fire allowing it to build up more readily and the strong winds enabled the fire to spread through the building more rapidly.
The fire service were eventually able to extinguish the blaze but not before a number of horses had sadly died.


Occupants Impact Statement and Message

“I Wasn't Expecting That” 

"It was 2.25am on an extremely windy December night that I awoke to my neighbour banging on my front door with the words “There is a fire at the Stables”.


I could see the flames through the thick decorative glass of the front door.  Sheer panic went through my whole body. 


Running outside just as the fire engine arrived (a passing motorist, as well as my neighbour had rung them) was a relief, but going into the yard to see the stable building completely gutted, and no horses heads over the doors was the worst experience of my life. 

After evacuating the remaining horses from another nearby building into the sand school, a very long night ensued with the Fire Brigade hosing down the remains of the building, police staying here all night, and just sitting outside feeling completely numb. How could this have happened?


The most dreadful thing was the loss of 3 horses’ lives, but also the loss of 26 years of possessions in the tack room.

At 6am my partner and I went back into the house and made a feeble attempt to sleep for an hour. Of course we didn't.


And didn't for many many nights afterwards. I still get flash backs.

When we stood up, in order to ring the horses owner, to tell her the dreadful news, I put the radio on and the first words I heard were the lyrics of a song…”I Wasn't Expecting That”.


Perfect timing."


This case study was provided by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service

Safety message​

The risk of fire in stables is high due to a number of factors including:-

  • Their location is often in secluded, rural areas which means a fire may be well underway before the alarm is raised

  • Combustible materials are frequently used in construction including wooden boards and timber frames

  • Highly flammable items are regularly stored inside including hay, straw, feed and blankets.

The risk of fire occurring in stables can be minimised through building design, fire detection devices and good management practices.

Stables, unless single and private, fall under the Fire Safety Order 2005 and Fire Safety Risk Assessment for Animal Premises and Stables guidance provides information regarding what needs to be done to comply with fire safety law including carrying out a fire risk assessment and implementing fire safety precautions.  

Advice regarding the legal requirements is also provided in the book Guidelines for Fire Safety in Equine and Agricultural Premises, by Harry Paviour, which is intended to be used by proprietors of equestrian establishments. 

Further safety measures include: 

  • Keeping all electrical appliances, machinery and their associated wiring in good repair and not overloading sockets.

  • Taking care to safely store highly flammable hay, bedding, feed and equipment (including fuels, oils and solvents), preferably away from equine accommodation.

  • Ban smoking or put strictly controlled smoking policies in place.

  • Be mindful that fire could start from an act of arson and/or when least expected and put measures in place which would offer protection in such circumstances.

  • Consider the use of fire detection and fire suppression systems, for example, sprinklers are being developed specifically for stables.

For further information relating to fire suppression systems in stables please contact:

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