BEAVERDAM, VA (WWBT) - The Hanover community is helping an equestrian center rebuild after a devastating fire destroyed a barn and killed two horses Wednesday morning.
Firefighters were called to the 15000 block of Tyler Station Road in Beaverdam at 2:44 a.m. for the reported fire.
The barn at the Beaverdam Equestrian Center was fully involved and people on scene said horses were still inside.
"There was one horse that stood by the barn the whole time, standing where his stall was,” said Victoria Lassiter, who helps out at the center. “He didn't even leave with the burning flames right there, he just stood there."
It took fire crews about 25 minutes to get the fire under control. Firefighters later found the two ponies dead inside.
"I've been coming here since I was four so I grew up with them," said Kadence Blunt, a long-time rider.
Blunt grew up around not only Chrissy and Chase, the two horses killed Wednesday, but also the family who runs the center.
“Patti is much more to me than an instructor,” Blunt said. “She’s like a family member.”
That’s why riders, family and friends were at the center just hours after the fire.
“[Chrissy and Chase] were in their 20s, had been loved for many, many years,” Lassiter said. “They were the staple of this barn and anyone whose been here knows who they area.”
Chrissy was an award-winning pony.
“My brother, the first time he ever rode, rode Chrissy,” Blunt said. “She was an amazing pony to get to see and ride on.”
Chase was a blind pony who loved people.
“On Sunday, I hoped on Chase bareback,” Lassiter said. “The ground was too hard to ride, but I was just helping feed out and I hopped on him bareback and just rode him around.”
Now the barn where dozens of horses and ponies once stayed has turned to ash. Hanover firefighters haven’t said what caused the fire, but many people suspect it was some kind of electrical issue.
While the investigation continues, friends, family and strangers from the community are focused on getting this center back on its feet.
“Being on the outside and seeing how many people who we haven’t talked to in years have come and instantly said hey what can I do for you, how can I help you, means the world,” Lassiter said.
People have helped rebuild fences, stock up on feed, but now the greatest need is shelter for the other horses still at the center.
"We have one field currently that doesn't have any shelter and I know we have a lot of rain coming in,” Lassiter said. “Some sort of shelter would be really beneficial for those animals."
They’ll also need help in acquiring equipment for lessons in the future.
"This is a lesson barn and everything tack wise is gone,” Lassiter said. “We don't have bridles, saddles, girths, pads or anything. That's really what Patti's business is."
"They're more of a friend and family than a business,” Blunt said. “They're very much family figures to a lot of us here."
The barn was deemed a total loss. Friends estimated the damage to be in the tens of thousands of dollars.
Members of the community have started a GoFundMe page to help the family impacted by the fire.