SACKVILLE, N.B. – A Sackville family is trying to pick up the pieces after their barn burned to the ground in the height of Thursday’s storm.
The barn caught fire around 7 a.m. Thursday, with 11 horses, four of them pregnant, and a Labrador Retriever trapped inside. Only the barn cat was able to get out.
Melissa Reid got a call from her brother around noon Thursday. He told her their parent’s barn was on fire and it had spread to the main house.
“I knew it was pretty bad when I heard that,” Reid said. “But it was worse than I thought when I got here.”
Reid said the farm was her young daughter’s second home.
“She’s like my mom,” she said, wiping away tears. “This was her passion. She was so excited this year she was supposed to be able to start showing with my mom.”
A backhoe helped the family dig through the rubble on Friday. They carefully removed the remains of all the animals and buried them. Three of the horses were boarders.
The barn was Sylvia Balsor’s livelihood. She said she would often rehabilitate horses that other people weren’t able to manage. She also ran a tack shop out of the building.
“All I’ve ever done is horses. All my life. I’ve had horses since I was ten,” she said.
Balsor was the only person home on Thursday when the fire broke out and said she tried to rescue the horses. She managed to get the barn doors open, but the roof collapsed before she could go in.
Her family wouldn’t let her leave the house Friday because they didn’t want her to see the barn.
Around the house, picture of horses hang on nearly every wall.
She broke down as she spoke about her prize stallion Coosas Calico Kid, also known as The Kid.
“Once-in-a-lifetime stallion,” she said. “A stallion that children could ride. People would come just to visit with him.”
Balsor said the family didn’t have insurance because it was nearly impossible to get it for their 100-year-old farm house, and the cost of the commercial insurance for the barn was more than the business made in a month.
Reid has started a Go-Fund-Me page to raise money for her parents. It has raised more than $7,000 in less than 24 hours.
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When the Balsor family moved to the area from Florida 12 years ago, and built the barn themselves, adding sections over the time.
Balsor said when she first called 911, she was told fire crews were delayed getting to the house because of the storm, but she is grateful for the work they did.
“Another 20 minutes and the house would have been engulfed,” William Balsor, her son, said. He lives down the street from his parent’s barn.
The family has received messages of support from friends and customers across Canada and the States.
They plan to rebuild.