An Illinois teenager is being hailed a hero after helping to save 25 horses from a barn fire that killed 18 horses in McHenry County last week.
Before tankers arrived at Black Tie Stable, the property of long time Arabian horse trainer and judge Richard Wright, 15 year-old Madison Wallraff pulled up to the property with her step-father and saw flames from the 64 stall, 25,000 square-foot barn.
After dialing 911, Wallraff ran into the barn and began pulling horses from their stalls. Returning to the blazing barn repeatedly, Wallraff, later joined by Shannon Weitzman, 21, pulled at least 25 horses to safety.
The fire ripped through Black Tie Stable shortly after 5pm. With no hydrants in the vicinity, at least 21 fire departments were needed to help out, along with tankers.
“Madison Wallraf is one brave young lady and some 25 horses, many of them Arabians, are alive today because of her incredible bravery in the face of life-threatening circumstances,” said Lance Walters, Arabian Horse Association (AHA), president.
“This act of selfless courage by Madison and fellow rescuer, Shannon Weitzman, with no concern for their personal safety, exemplifies the bond between the horse and the people who love them,” Walters added.
Seeing animals and members of their own community in need, many near McHenry jumped into action to support Wright and his clients by offering care for the surviving horses.
Those not as close or without the means to help directly turned to the Internet to express their sympathy with donations to the Arabian Horsemen’s Distress Fund (AHDF) at www.horsemensdistressfund.com.
“It’s amazing the scope and breadth of the people who want to help in these situations. Everybody cares, and they care in the same way,” says Mary Trowbridge, an AHDF Board Member. “We didn’t even really reach out, but the outpouring of support actually crashed our server for a short time,” says Trowbridge. AHDF is accepting donations that can be earmarked directly toward the Richard Wright fire.
The fire is believed to have started in the southeast corner of the stable, and while the cause has not yet been established definitively, it was considered accidental.