Volunteer-run stables near Innerleithen hit twice by arsonists

Volunteers at a stables near Innerleithen have vowed to carry on despite being hit by two arson attacks in 24 hours.

Wednesday, 5th June 2019, 5:42 pm
A firefighter at the stables in the early hours of Tuesday.

Haughhead Stables, home to 50 horses, was first targeted overnight on Sunday, with fire causing minor damage to an outbuilding.

However, a further three buildings were set alight the following night.

Although none of the horses, many of them from rescue centres and charities, were injured in the fires, parts of the stables have been wrecked and thousands of pounds’ worth of equipment lost.

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Volunteer yard manager Iain Weir said: “We had a small fire in one of the sheds on Sunday night, then on Monday night the alarm was raised that one of the sheds was well alight.

“Emergency services were quick attending and thankfully got it under control.

“Our main concern at the time was making sure that the animals were all safe and that our lorry was OK. The fire brigade were dampening it down so it didn’t catch light.”

He added that the fires had come as a shock to everyone.

“This sort of thing is very unusual round here, but two in two nights is a big worry,” he said.

“I don’t think we will ever understand why they did this. We have lost thousands.”

Straw bales, jump poles and stands and timber for new stable blocks were among the items destroyed, and two field shelters will have to be demolished and rebuilt.

“None of us are paid for the work we do,” Ian said. “All of the money brought in goes back into the upkeep and development of the yard and the horses’ welfare.

“It’s a lot to deal with at this time of year with all the events and rideouts on, but we will keep doing what we do and won’t let the actions of these selfish people stop us.

“We are a bit shaken, but at least none of the horses are injured.”

Fire crews from Innerleithen, Peebles and Galashiels were called out to the stables after the alarm was raised at 1.47am on Tuesday.

Three buildings were well alight by the time they arrived, and firefighters spent two hours tackling the blaze.

The flames were brought under control before 4am, but a crew remained on site to dampen down the area.

Police also attended, using a sniffer dog in an attempt to track down the culprits.

Officers are now appealing for anyone with information to come forward.

A force spokesman said: “Police in the Borders are investigating following a fire in Innerleithen.

“Significant damage has been caused to a stable area. However, no animals or people were injured.

“The fire is being treated as suspicious, and anyone with information is asked to come forward and quote incident 198 of June 4.”

A fundraising page set up on Tuesday to help replace lost equipment and materials has already raised £600 of its £1,000 target.

Ian said: “We have been totally blown away with all the offers of support and donations. We have had tradesmen offering help as well. We can’t thank the community enough.”

Go to www.gofundme.com/haughhead-arson to donate.