Humble hero saves horse from burning barn

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An off-duty police offer spies flames, dashes into barn and saves mare in foal

By Lisa King

“There was a live wire on the ground, and he just jumped a mile right over it and ran right into the burning building and got that mare out of the stall and took her out.”

Those are the words of a very grateful Linda Bennett of Alliance Stud as she described the efforts of reluctant hero who saved a mare she owns from potential disaster and then drove off anonymously into the sunset Wednesday.

That hero turns out to be Rodney Kidd, an off-duty Simpsonville Police officer, who steered Greta, a Standardbred mare who is serving as a surrogate mother, to safety from a burning barn.

But he doesn’t want to be called a hero.

Kidd simply says he was on his way home from work about 3 p.m. when he noticed what looked like flames in a barn off Colt Run Road, just west of Simpsonville, and drove over to investigate.

“Then I saw flames coming out of the eaves,” he said.

He said he yelled to a bystander to call 911 and went down to the barn – which is about 100 yards south of Colt Run – to see if any horses were there.

He discovered Greta standing in one of the stalls.

“She really wanted out,” he said. “So I just opened the stall door for her, ‘cause she said, ‘I’m coming out.’”

Kidd then grabbed a nearby water hose to try to extinguish some of the fire. By then, members of the Simpsonville Fire Department were on the scene.

Bennett’s husband Scott Bennett, owns the Equine Services hospital, and he leases the barn across the street. That’s where Greta was staying.

Linda Bennett said she was at home at Alliance Stud on Todds Point Road when the fire broke out, and she said the staff of Equine Services across the street from the barn had seen the fire department arriving.

 “Everybody just started running up from Equine Services to see this guy who just out of the blue saved this horse’s life,” she said. “And we didn’t even know who he was, and when the fire department got there, he just left.”

On Thursday, his identity having been discovered by The Sentinel-News, Kidd returned to the property to pose for a reunion with Greta, the mare he had saved from certain death.

“Thank you so much for saving her,” Equine Services technician Deana Fiser and vet Dr. Lucinda Hartley said almost in the same breath.

“I was glad to do it,” said Kidd, protesting at being labeled a hero.

“This is a horse community, and everybody should look out for one another,” he said, stroking Greta’s mane. “I have horses, too, and I would hope that someone would do the same for me.”

Fiser, who received a “kiss” from Greta for the camera, said she would have had nightmares for a long time had the horse burned to death.

“We have just been wishing we could find the guy who saved her, and now we just want to thank him so much,” she said with a smile at Kidd.

Simpsonville Fire Chief Walter Jones said the barn was a total loss and that the cause was under investigation by the state fire marshal’s office.

Thursday, Rob Goodwin, senior deputy state fire marshal, said the cause was electrical.

“This is going to ruled officially an accident; the wires going to the barn showed evidence of deterioration, and that was the mechanism of ignition,” he said.

The barn is owned by the Archdiocese of Louisville, who received the barn in a donation of property.  There has been no comment by the diocese about the matter.

Bennett said she is just glad no one was hurt.

“Normally, there are more horses in that barn, but Wednesday it was so nice outside, they were all out in the pasture except for Greta, because we were medicating one of her eyes,” she said.

“Losing a building is bad, but my gosh, just knowing the horses are OK and no one was hurt, that’s everything.”