50-year-old horse farm in Smiths Falls, Ont. destroyed by fire
SMITHS FALLS, ONT. -- Francis Audet and Debbie Baldwin are still picking up the pieces after their home and horse farm went up in flames last Thursday afternoon.
Audet says he was just about to head out to work around 3 p.m. when he smelled smoke. Baldwin had just run out for some errands when she received a call.
"By the time I got here it was devastating," Baldwin told CTV News Ottawa. "The flames were everywhere."
Neighbour Judy Weber says she saw the whole thing from across the street. "I saw the flames shooting out through the apartment window and then down the other side, and everything," recalls the long time neighbour. "There's no words to explain how bad it was."
A response by the Drummond, North Elmsley, & Tay Valley Townships and Smiths Falls fire departments drew roughly 70 firefighters. Fire Chief Greg Saunders says the cause is still under investigation, but it is believed the fire started in the main living area. No one was injured in the blaze.
"So eventually, to fully extinguish the fire, we had to bring an excavator in to dismantle the building, and then fully extinguish," said Saunders
On the property sat Northern Lights Equine, a facility run by Audet and Baldwin to board and rehabilitate horses.
"We had a dream of healing horses, and we have been doing that, and in the process, we were healing people," said Audet.
But now, despite losing everything, the couple are worried for their friends who board at their stables and their animals.
"We had nine boarders that pay us to take care of their horses, and now we have nothing," said an emotional Baldwin.
A GoFundMe campaign has been started for the family, who intend to use the money to buy things like blankets to care for the horses through winter, and to also replace the boarders' belongings that were destroyed in the blaze.
"It's not only us that suffered, it's them," said Baldwin, "because they're here to have a facility to ride in, to have a facility to care for their horse. And we will, we will care for their horse."