Massive barn fire kills 14 horses in Bedford, N.H.

A barn fire at Perry Hill Farm in Bedford, N.H., killed at least 14 horses this morning, fire officials said.

“We are sifting through the debris and ash, trying to figure out what happened here,’’ said John Raymond, deputy state fire marshal.

He said the three-alarm blaze broke out at 8:23 a.m. in the barn and was brought under control within an hour.

“The horses died inside the barn, probably from smoke inhalation. They need air to breathe,’’ said Raymond. “The structure was completely destroyed by the fire. It burned to the ground.’’

Raymond said 45 to 50 firefighters responded to the fire and had to shuttle water in from nearby ponds because the community did not have hydrants.

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Officials said eight horses, two goats, and a pig were able to escape the flames.

Harriet and Elissa Finks, a mother and daughter who own the farm, released a statement saying they were devastated by the fire. They said they considered the horses to be members of the family and thanked everyone who worked at saving them.

James Daly, 69, has lived next door to the farm for 30 years, and said he first noticed the fire around 8 a.m.

“My wife heard crackling,’’ Daly said. “She looked out the window and saw flames and that’s when we noticed it.’’

Daly said there is nothing left of the barn but a charred heap of debris, and that a surrounding fence is the only thing still standing.

“It’s amazing how quickly that place went down,’’ he said. “It was a massive structure and it was completely gone in about 45 minutes. Tragic.’’

According to its website, Perry Hill Farm is a full service equestrian academy dedicated to teaching children and adults of all ages. The 10,000-square-foot barn contained horse stalls and a riding stable.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, but authorities do not believe it was suspicious. Officials are “just starting to process the scene,’’ Raymond said.

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