by Joe Schwartz
Thirteen horses died in a Chapel Hill fire early this morning when a blaze swept through a barn at 2006 Marions Ford Road and into the woods, destroying "multiple acres," Orange County Spokesman David Hunt said.
Nine horses were rescued from an adjacent barn.
Firefighters were dispatched at 3:37 a.m. and remain on the scene.
"Six hours later, and they are still working it," Hunt said. "I wouldn't exactly call it fighting at this point. They are doing their overhaul, soaking down hot spots."
Fire marshals won't be able to begin determining the cause of the blaze or assessing the damage until that work is complete.
The address is the home of Foxwood Farms, a boarding stable, owned by Layton and Mary Wheeler. They also offer riding lessons and rent single-family homes at the property, according to the farm Web site, abundant with photos of horses peaking their heads through fences, nestling, grazing and riding in competition.
"I'm happy there is a place like this for my horse and me," a testimonial on the site reads. "They have great facilities: two nice rings, great pastures, and beautiful scenery to look at when you ride. The stalls are kept wonderfully clean, and the horses are very, very happy with all of the great care."
Five fire departments — Orange Grove, White Cross, Carrboro, New Hope and Orange Rural — helped fight the fire, along with South Orange Rescue and N.C. Forestry Services.
"It took multiple resources with the fire going into the woods, especially with it being so dry." Hunt said.