Pleasureville barn owner lost everything

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2 horses lost in fire were owned by a friend

By Ashley Wilkins


A fire that took the lives of two horses Friday evening, still burns five days later.

“I think the fire department has been out here three or four more times since Friday,” said Valerie Blethen, the property owner.

Blethen said she spent most of Friday before the fire in the barn, leaving at 3:30 p.m. to do some paperwork at her house, just a few hundred feet away. 

Then, around 5 p.m., Blethen says she received a knock on the door from a passerby alerting her that the barn was on fire.

She immediately rushed out to the barn, but said, “by the time I got out there the roof was already engulfed.”

When Blethen realized she couldn’t get into the barn to save the horses, she immediately began salvaging whatever items she could from the outside of the barn, managing to save a few vehicles and carriages, but losing a truck, tractor, carriage and 30 years worth of equipment and tools.

“I don’t even have a water bucket left,” she said. “We have to start over.”

Blethen used to train horses but now mostly raises then.  At the time of the fire, she said she had only two horses in the barn, a mare and a colt that were being boarded by a friend, Dr. John Kenney.

“I couldn’t reach the owner for a day and a half,” she recalls. “I just kept telling him to call me back, it was an emergency.” 

When Blethen finally spoke to Kenney, she says he quickly hung up.  He called back the next day to apologize for abruptly ending the call.

“He said he just needed time to process what happened,” she said.

Blethen had seven other horses in the pasture at the time, they were unharmed.

“I hope we don’t have any bad weather for awhile, because I have nowhere to put those horses right now,” she said.  “I guess we’re going to have to rebuild, I don’t know...Even if it’s just temporary. I’m just not sure.”

Blethen says she also lost years worth of blankets, buckets, records, certificates, documents and pictures.

“My husband lost all of his tools,” she said. “We maybe have a hammer left.”

A neighboring Amish family has been giving her much needed help, bringing over casseroles at times.

Blethen said she ensured all of the lights were out before she left the barn and that little remained for the fire department to investigate.

“I have no clue what happened, maybe I never will.”