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This article was published 22/2/2015 (2649 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A fire chief credited a Facebook appeal that caught on like wildfire for a spontaneous rescue that rounded up horses spooked in a barn fire Sunday.
Matlock Fire Chief Ron Lucyshen said the social media appeal was picked up by several women in and around the RM of St. Andrews.
They responded by showing up at the Aesgard Ranch in the RM after fire crews freed about a dozen horses from a burning barn.
The volunteer firefighters were busy with the blaze, so the horse lovers turned their attention to the animals, he said.
"The animals are OK. A bunch of ladies from around the country(side) came out and rounded them all up. They were running all over the place," the fire chief said.
The women calmed the animals down and corralled them on the ranch, Lucyshen said.
Facebook lit up with reports shortly after fire started at about 8 a.m. at Aesgard Ranch, located off Highway 8 about 60 kilometres north of Winnipeg.
The fire remained under investigation Sunday. The Office of the Fire Commissioner had officials on the scene along with the RCMP, Lucyshen said.
The owner of the ranch could not be reached for comment Sunday. Fire officials said they were still trying to reach the owner late Sunday afternoon.
One woman in Portage la Prairie added to the social media account Sunday, after her Facebook sites lit up.
Marni Arnott said the appeal burst across related animal-rescue sites Sunday morning because the same ranch was the focus of an animal abuse probe less than two years earlier.
"They needed help because the barn was burning and the horses were running wild," Arnott said in a phone interview from Portage la Prairie. "I just thought it deserved some followup.
"It just appalled me," she added, recounting abuse allegations at the ranch that prompted a rally in 2013.
In June 2013, provincial veterinary officials and local ranchers followed up a notice posted online on Kijiji that horses kept at the ranch were starving and without adequate food or care.
About the same time as Facebook was rallying a rescue squad Sunday, volunteer firefighters in the RM got their initial calls for help.
About six trucks arrived from Matlock and another four from Clandeboye. The two locations, along with St. Andrews, round out the volunteer fire department for the RM.
"We had to break the horses out so they wouldn’t burn," Lucyshen said.
It took most of the day to douse the blaze. One barn was totally destroyed but none of the horses were injured, Lucyshen said.
Some of the horses were temporarily put in another barn undamaged by the blaze and others were penned in a corral. "They (the women) got a water trough and a water heater for the horses," Lucyshen said.