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Most Common Causes of Barn Fires
 By Winniefield Park   •   5th Feb 2014   •   7,650 views   •   1 comments
I was shocked to learn that fire leveled a local riding stable Friday night. At about 3:00AM a passing motorist noticed the blaze and called 911. By the time fire fighters arrived the barn was fully engulfed and by 6:00AM, despite the combined efforts of four rural fire departments, the stable was a smoking ruin. Thankfully, no horses or humans were hurt. On the same night, thousands of miles south, a barn fire near Bishop, Georgia killed eighteen horses. Earlier in January another barn fire near Huntsville, Alabama resulted in the loss of twelve horses, a dog and thirteen cats, along with a collection of antique cars. Four horses were pulled from a barn fire near Aiken, South Carolina.

Most Common Causes of Barn Fires

Barn fires are all too common. Investigators can sometimes discover what ignited the fire, and we can learn from that. But sometimes, the cause is never discovered. Barn owners and those who work and play in horse stables need to understand fire safety and their role in making horse stables fire safe.

Related: My Horse and Eight Others Die in Tragic Barn Fire

One of the most common causes of fires in many buildings is faulty electrical equipment. Exposed wires, uncovered lights, and overloaded circuits are all common hazards. And just because a barn is wired correctly doesn't mean the electrical systems don't need to be checked regularly. I know of one situation where raccoons pulled down the wires leading to a light bulb leaving the wire near the fixture exposed. GFI plugs that continually malfunction, broken light bulbs or fixtures and rodent-damaged wiring need to be fixed quickly, before they become a fire hazard. Even if you don't own the stable, mention any such damage to the manager or owner, just in case they haven't noticed it themselves.

A stable contains a lot of flammables such as wood shavings, hay and straw. The dust from these materials are very combustible. That's why keeping a barn clean is important. Cobwebs are also highly flammable. They should be swept down frequently, and not allowed to catch chaff and dust. Hay, shavings and straw should be kept in a separate building from the horse stabling, if possible. And of course, damp hay should not be stored indoors. Damp hay can heat up and start to smolder. Because the fire starts in the center of the pile, these fires can be very difficult to douse.

In the wintertime, trough, heaters shouldn't be allowed to sit out of water. If you notice a trough that is empty, either fill it or unplug the heater. If hay or chaff lands on a hot heater, it could be a fire hazard. Space heaters, sun lamps and heat lamps can also cause barn fires, and these should be used with extreme caution. Things like hot dog makers, toaster ovens, kettles, hot plates, coffee makers and other appliances are nice to have in a stable, but they also pose a fire hazard if the user forgets to turn them off.

Another common fire hazard is vehicles stored in the stable. Any vehicle, even tractors and ATVs can give off a spark that can ignite a fire. Vehicles shouldn't be stored in the same building as horses.

No-Smoking signs should be posted in and around stables. A smoldering cigarette butt can ignite chaff easily, and this is one of the leading causes of stable fires. If you smoke, butt out at the barn and ask others to do so too. Fire safety is everyone's responsibility when working in a stable.
Horse News More In This Category:  General      Horse News More From This Author:  Winniefield Park
Dark Star  
I know I raised heck when they put wet hay in the barn where Dee used to be. We moved her soon after since they obviously had no clue the type of things that can be hazardous.

We also have the idiots who leave a heater on 24/7 in the tack room, I turn it off every time I go in there, but it always ends up on when I go back in there because (and this is a true quote because it's too stupid to make up) "We leave it on so we have a warm spot to go smoke".... *facepalm* o.O
  60 days ago  •  9,239 views
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