Monday, February 8, 2016

Accidental fire reinforces equine bond

The fire in West Marlborough Township on May 31 that claimed the lives of six Olympic-caliber showhorses has been ruled accidental, and an outpouring of support for the victims continues.

Accidental fire reinforces equine bond


The Chester County Fire Marshal has ruled that the fire in West Marlborough Township on May 31 that claimed the lives of six Olympic-caliber showhorses was accidental. Harrison Holt said this morning that the fire originated near machinery he described as a hay-steamer, used to kill bacteria that could form in the hay. He said the unit will be evaluated by an electrical engineer to determine what might have sparked the blaze.

In the meantime, fund-raising efforts have continued, especially for Lillian Heard, Ryan "Woodsy" Wood, & Caitlyn Silliman, who lived in an apartment attached to the barn at True Prospect Farm. The trio, with help from Boyd Martin, the renowned trainer who leased the barn at True Prospect Farm, and Phillip Dutton, who owns the farm with his wife, Evie, risked their lives to try and save the eleven horses inside. Five were rescued and are receiving treatment at New Bolton Center.

Last week, the Whip Tavern collected nearly $7,000, a combination of donations and 50 percent of Wednesday night's receipts, one of dozens of outreach events. 

Efforts to boost the True Prospect Relief Fund are also occurring across the country through sales promotions and events, according to Martin's blog. An online EBay auction is among one of the myriad events planned; it is tentatively set to start mid-June and run for 2 weeks. More donation opportunities have been detailed at  

"This tragic event has brought the community that we live in even closer," Martin wrote. "It’s an amazing feeling having so many people willing to help and assist you when you experience this kind of misfortune."
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About this blog
Aubrey Whelan covers Chester County for the Inquirer. A native of a Philadelphia suburb so small it doesn't have a zip code, she grew up reading the Inquirer and was thrilled to take a job there in fall 2012. Previously, she covered crime, courts and D.C.'s Occupy movement for the Washington Examiner. Aubrey graduated from Penn State in 2011, where she worked for the award-winning campus newspaper and majored in journalism and French. Contact her at 215-495-5855 or You can also follow her on Twitter at

Aubrey Whelan
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