Barn owner after fire killed 13 horses: ‘This wasn’t an accident’

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LOWELL TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Authorities say a person of interest was questioned in connection to a fire that killed 13 therapy horses near Lowell early Saturday.

The Kent County Sheriff’s Department told 24 Hour News 8 they interviewed the person regarding the suspicious fire at The Barn for Equine Learning on Timpson Avenue in Lowell Township and then let them go.

“I don’t know who would want to harm these horses. It’s unthinkable,” said barn owner Kat Welton.

The sheriff’s department said investigators found new evidence at the barn on Monday, but wouldn’t release specific details.

“We’re trying to follow any leads and try to go through evidence,” said Deputy Natashia Smith with the Kent County Sheriff’s Office. “This is a very serious incident that is not going to be taken lightly. We are going to make sure that we are doing what we can do to solve this.”

Welton believes the fire was started by someone connected to the barn or the area.

She says the barn doors were locked from the inside. She thinks more than one person may be involved.

“This wasn’t an accident,” said Welton. “Even if this is an electrical fire accident, it couldn’t have chained our barn doors. It couldn’t have disrupted all the things around our property. I was not the last person in our barn Saturday night.”

The Barn for Equine Learning was more than a home for the horses; it was also a safe haven for kids and teens. The horses were a source of healing for kids overcoming trauma and abuse.

“This shouldn’t have happened. It’s not fair. It’s not going to stop me from, from helping people,” Welton added.

On Sunday, a small memorial sat outside the site of the Lowell Township barn. That same site will host a memorial service for the horses Saturday at 11 a.m.

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help The Barn for Equine Learning rebuild.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Anyone with information is urged to call the Kent County Sheriff’s Department at 616.632.6100 or Silent Observer at 616.774.2345.

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