Sitting alone in her kitchen on County Road in Gorham about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Patricia Perkins noticed signs of a fire and thought the woods near her house were burning.
However, when she went outside to investigate, she was shocked to see it was not the woods, but her barn and indoor riding arena that were on fire.
“Everything is gone,” Perkins cried afterwards.
Perkins quickly dialed 911 before rushing outside to lead her horses to safety. Quick action by two strangers driving past the scene also saved a horse that was trapped and scared in a corner of the barn. The strangers got out of their vehicle and rushed into action, assisting Perkins in the rescue.
Perkins said none of the 15 horses, which included one that was partially blind, were lost in the inferno that swept the combination indoor riding arena and barn.
Gorham Fire Chief Robert Lefebvre said the barn was “totally involved” when firefighters arrived. The barn was a wide-open building with no walls to stop the fire from spreading and fire already was coming out the side of the barn when Perkins discovered it, Lefebvre said.
Firefighters first concentrated on saving the farmhouse. “The house was smoking when we got there,” Lefebvre said.
The horses stayed calm after their evacuation, blissfully munching on hay scattered on snow in a corral while firefighters battled the blaze in freezing temperatures. Some of the horses watched the fire, raising their heads while they ate. At noon on Tuesday, Perkins said a friend was helping her find temporary housing for the horses.
Firefighters pumped water onto the fire from tankers and the water supply was augmented from a pond on the opposite side of County Road. Both travel lanes of the road were closed to traffic. “It was really going there for awhile,” said neighbor Connie Shiers. “Flames were way above the trees.”
Lefebvre said the fire originated in the wiring in the front of the barn. “We determined it was electrical,” he said.
In addition to Gorham, units from Buxton, Scarborough and Windham responded to the three-alarm fire. Units from Standish and Westbrook covered other stations in town.
Perkins said about $600 in hay and grain was lost in the fire and she had to order feed to replace it. She also lost all of the saddles, bridles, buckets and other equipment that was stored in the barn.
Lefebvre said the barn was a total loss, but he didn’t have an estimate of the amount of damages. “It could have been a lot worse,” Lefebvre said.
Perkins hopes to rebuild but didn’t know immediately just how much of the loss would be covered by insurance.
(Barn fire 2) – Water sprays on a barn fire in Gorham Tuesday while 15 horses are safe in a corral.Fire destroys a horse barn Tuesday on County Road in Gorham.(News Perkins Fire 7788) – Horses displaced by Tuesday’s barn fire at Perkins Farm on County Road warily eye the mopping up operation as Ross Larrabee of the Gorham Fire Department wets down the smoldering embers.