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Owner vows to rebuild after Alberta equine therapy barn goes up in flames

Alberta equine therapy barn goes up in flames, owner vows to rebuild
WATCH: A troubling loss for an equine therapy business in Carstairs, Alta. -- a huge fire destroyed their barn, along with $20,000 worth of tack. Jill Croteau reports.

Four fire departments responded to a big fire in central Alberta Sunday afternoon.

Crews from Didsbury, Carstairs, Olds and Crossfield were on scene as flames ripped through a Carstairs barn around 1 p.m. The stable belonged to Rein Forth Equine, a therapy business supporting children.

Bruce Kirke was the first person on scene. Kirke is friends with the owner, Jules Rainforth.

Rein Forth barn up in flames.
Rein Forth barn up in flames. Courtesy: Jules Rainforth

“The far end of the barn was fully in flames and I tried to get to the door because I was hoping to salvage something, but by the time I got there, it was billowing and there was nothing,” Kirke said.

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“Once the horses were out, there wasn’t much else to do.”

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Fire tears through barn.
Fire tears through barn. Courtesy: Jules Rainforth

All the horses survived but $20,000 worth of tack is gone. The barn was worth close to $140,000.

Rainforth had insurance. She is grateful she didn’t lose her animals.

Burned remains of the barn.
Burned remains of the barn. Jill Croteau/Global News

“I can look at this and see this is devastating and say, ‘Yup, it’s awful,’ but we’re OK,” Rainforth said. “My team is here and we’ll be OK. I got this.”

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Volunteers who support her know Rainforth is tough, adding that donations have already been offered.

“All of her tack is monumental to replace it all but Jules is the business,” said volunteer Michelle Fiske. “This is all replaceable. She’s got an amazing business and does amazing stuff for the kids so she will rebuild.”

The clients hope there won’t be much of a transition. Glennis Getson’s daughter relies on these horses to ease her anxiety.

“This is her second home. She will be in tears,” Getson said. “Driving over here, I thought, ‘What are we going to do?’ Hope comes here and has her lessons and it’s going to be hard.”

Aftermath of the fire.
Aftermath of the fire. Jill Croteau/Global News

Rylan Kennedy, 16, said this is a big loss to the community.

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“I spent a lot of time in that barn with the horses, my friends and Jules and my mom,” Kennedy said. “I have a lot of memories here.”

A fire investigator will be on scene sifting through the rubble hoping to find a cause.