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Aging electrical system suspected of sparking fire at Santa Barbara horse facility

An aging electrical system is suspected of sparking a fire at the Hearts Therapeutic Equestrian Center off Calle Real in Santa Barbara County.

The barn went up in flames early Thursday morning and sheriff’s officials working across the street noticed the smoke right away. Fortunately, a fire engine was at the fuel depot at the top of the hill and made it to the site within minutes.

The barn was filled with a month’s supply of hay and no horses.

Riders and volunteers were back Friday afternoon while others dropped off donations. Geri Bidwell, a Santa Barbara resident, dropped off 12 bales of hay for the center’s herd of 16 horses. She said she drove over after she was unable to get through the center’s busy phone line.

“Make a donation,” Bidwell suggested. “Doesn’t have to be a lot. Even $10 dollars, $25 dollars will go a long way for a horse and these kids, the veterans and the people that use this. They really get a lot from it.”

Alexis Weaver, Executive Director of the equestrian center, said fire officials have suggested monitoring the damaged hay for smoldering, which is laid out in the sun. Weaver said they’ll do that for three days and so far, no problems.

Weaver told NewsChannel 3 that the riding facility has been at that location for 20 years.

“At this point in time, the investigators told us it’s an undetermined cause,” Weaver said. “They had to destroy most of the building because of the hay and the fire, but we believe it was most likely electrical.”

Estimates to rebuild the barn range between $10,000 thousand and $20,000 dollars.

If you’d like to make a donation, you can do so online at:

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