Four rescue ponies and one horse had to be rescued from their burning stable in Marton after arsonists set the place ablaze.
June Wilson and TJ
Shetland ponies Toby and Alfie, Nancy, Molly, and 15-month-old foal TJ had a lucky escape when their home, on Eastbank Avenue, was targeted at 1am on September 21.
Their owner June Wilson, 72, said: “I was looking out of my window, I couldn’t sleep. I saw a figure – I couldn’t say if it was a man or a woman – trying to climb over my fence.
“I must admit I panicked. I was shaking. I couldn’t call 999, my hand were shaking so badly. I threw my coat on and ran next door to my neighbour, and they looked out the upstairs window and saw the stable was ablaze.
June and TJ on the site of the burned down stable
“I cried ‘my horses, my hoses, they’ll get killed’.”
June and several of her neighbours, including brothers Chay Lonsdale, 21, and his brother Roman, 20, raced to the stables while another neighbour called police and fire services.
Toby, Alfie, Nancy and TJ were taken safely into a nearby field – but Molly the horse was trapped inside the burning building.
She was rescued by Chay and Roman, who risked their own lives to save her, and sustained second degree burns.
Chay said: “I ran all the way down the street and jumped over the fence. I went into the stable with the fire extinguisher and started trying to put out the fire. But the fire extinguisher ran out, and it got to the stage where there was no saving it. So the main aim became protecting the surrounding buildings and the animals.
“Everyone started throwing sand on the surrounding buildings.
“One of the horses was trapped in one of the shelters, and we managed to pull it open and get it out.”
June, a retired carer and grandma of one, said: “They were very lucky. We managed to get them all in a field. The whole stable was ablaze – it was horrendous. Somebody rang the fire brigade for me because my fingers wouldn’t work.
“The fire brigade came and by then it was fully alight, because I had got hay in the stable for the winter, and that went up like a tornado. It all happened so quickly. Of course, whoever had done it had gone by the time we came along.”
Just five days before the potentially deadly attack, June’s stables were similarly targeted by suspected arsonists who set fire to a sack of hay.
Her neighbours on Eastbank Road and beyond have now rallied behind her as she struggles to gather the money she need to rebuild the stable, which was damaged beyond repair – leaving her ponies out in the cold.
“It has left me feeling absolutely devastated,” she said. “I can’t sleep at night. I’m always looking out.
“The horses are my life. I have kept horses for over 50 years; they’re everything to me. If anything happened to them, if they had been killed in the fire, I’d be a nervous wreck.
“I’m 72 now, and they keep me going.
“They’re all rescues. They’ve had bad lives, some of them, and they want a restful life in their old age and that’s what I give them – at least I hope I do.”
He said: “It has affected June immensely. She works every day at the stables, seven days a week, even on Christmas Day, so for something like this to happen – it’s hit her massively.
“The main thing is that the horses dont have a place to go for shelter now. These past few days they have just been sleeping in the field.
“June is retired and she has very little money. I felt it was the right thing to do to set up a fund-raiser. She’s 72 and doesn’t need this sort of stress in her life, so I hoped as a community we could all come together and take on some of that ourselves.”
June said: “My neighbours have been brilliant, and my friends, and even people I don’t even know. Everybody has been so lovely to me.
“All I can say is that I hope (police) catch the lowlife that did it. Hurting animals is not right. They’re done nothing wrong. There aren’t words to describe how terrible it is.”
We were called around 1.25am on September 17 to a report of a stable fire in Eastbank Avenue, Blackpool.
Fire crews attended the scene with the fire later extinguished.
The cause of the fire is being treated as suspicious.
An investigation is underway and enquiries are ongoing.
Anyone with information can contact police on 101 quoting log 0078 of September 17.