A STABLES owner has spoken of her shock after a fire destroyed a building in a suspected arson attack, risking horses’ lives.
Four horses were saved the blaze in a storage building at the stables, in Station Approach, East Boldon, this morning.
Firefighters said the blaze is believed to have been started maliciously, and it was “lucky” the animals had not been killed.
The stables are owned by Sharon Bulmer and Lesley Richardson, and Miss Bulmer estimates around £1,500 worth of damage has been done.
However, her main concern was for the welfare of the seven horses which are based at the stables, in particular the four which the fire came close to harming.
She said: “The fire was very bad. It was started in a barn where we kept the horsebox.
“There was nothing of any major value in there, but it has burned all of that down and travelled all the way round and nearly went to the stables where the horses are.
“The horsebox and cart were destroyed, as well as the building, so there has probably been around £1,500 worth of damage done.
“When I heard about it, I was in shock and didn’t know what to think.
“I don’t know why someone would want to do that. It doesn’t make any sense.
“It’s just a relief that the horses are safe.
“In the whole yard, there are seven horses, and the fire was close to the part with four horses in.
“We’ve had lots of petty damage over the years, but nothing as serious as this.”
The alarm was raised at 4.35am this morning, and two fire crews, from South Shields and Fulwell, battled the blaze using hose reels and water from a nearby hydrant.
Crew manager Adi Sargent, from South Shields fire station, said: “The building was a hundred per cent burnt down.
“We don’t know what the cause is yet, but it is thought to be malicious.
“We have lost a building, but the main thing is we saved the horses. If we had been five minutes later, the stable would have gone up as well.
“I would urge people in the area to be on their guard for people walking about in the early hours of the morning.
“It is thought to be malicious, but I am unable to prove that at the moment.”
Station Manager Steve Graham, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, added: “It was lucky we got the call when we did, because the fire was about to spread to the occupied stable.
“It was windy and everything was very dry, so the fire would have spread quickly, endangering the lives of the horses.”
The incident comes three weeks after five horses were killed after stables at Cox Green, Penshaw, were set alight by suspected arsonists.
In the same week, another stable fire broke out in Fence Houses, although no horses were killed in that incident.