Deadly Houston Area Stable Fire Kills 8 Horses, Arson Suspected

December 22, 2008

Houston, Texas, authorities are working to identify a motive or a suspect in a deadly stable fire that killed up to eight horses.

The blaze at a modest stable in south Houston happened around 1:15 a.m. Dec. 19.

Investigators have determined the fire was arson, said Houston Fire Department spokeswoman Alicia White.

Officials are trying to figure out how many horses died, although the stable’s owner estimated the number at eight, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The “Special Pals” stable was popular with local special needs children, said owner Gerald Butler, a 73-year-old retired Port of Houston worker.

Many of the animals kept at the stable were owned by members of the Southwestern Trail Ride, which participates in the annual Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo.

Cary Hunter lost three horses in the fire, including one named Easter.

“It hurts bad,” he said. “I cried. I’m not going to lie.”

The 12-year-old sorrel mare was so affectionate that she would come running when Hunter called and often followed him around, Hunter said.

“I’ll never find another horse like that,” said the 43-year-old firefighter from Pasadena. “She knew me. I knew her.”

Two horses survived, including Hunter’s 8-year-old Palomino, Dorado.

“I can’t imagine anyone who’d want to hurt these horses,” Hunter said.

Delta Thomas, 52, said it was difficult to break the news to her 13-year-old daughter Tricina that her bay quarter horse Scarlett died in the fire.

“She started crying,” the retired city worker said. “That really hurt her that she lost her horse.”

Thomas was shocked to learn the fire was deliberate.

“I don’t have the slightest idea who could’ve done something like that,” she said.

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