While details of the fire were difficult to come by, signs of the chaos it wrought were everywhere. After the fire broke out after 6 p.m., at least two horses escaped the farm completely, creating a surrealistic scene for motorists.
Christine Colagero of Dalton was headed down Carbondale Road with her husband and daughter when she saw a horse galloping down the road toward her head-on.
"I know the horse farm and we saw the smoke, so I wasn't totally surprised," she said. "But the horse was scared. I wish we could have done something to help."
Neighbors talked about another horse being wrangled not far from the farm, and given water until the chaos was over.
As word of the fire spread, owners of horses boarded at Over the Hill began to show up, ignoring fire police at the farm gates, rushing to get to the barn. They were not comforted by what they saw. One woman walked up the gravel road and saw the stables' complete devastation, she held her hand over her mouth and turned away, "Oh, My God!" she said, falling into the arms of friend.
Returning from the fire scene, Cheryl Leach said an apartment rented on the farm by her daughter was - like much else - a total loss. Of the more than 30 horses at the farm, Ms. Leach said she believed six were accounted for.
A handful of horses wandered around a corral in the foreground of the blaze as staffers sponged them down with water. One badly injured black horse had exposed flesh from his head to his back, his wounds appearing as large red blotches. Staffers placed wet towels the horse's back.
As the night wore on, Chinchilla Fire Chief Keith Grierson said multiple horses died in blaze, but he did have an exact count. Loose horses were reported wandering near the Waverly exit on Interstate 81 and in Clarks Summit, leaving hope for horse owners. Chief Grierson could not speculate on the cause of the blaze, noting that the building was fully involved when firefighters arrived.
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