A 1740-era barn on the Ryerss Farm for Aged Equines in Pottstown, PA was destroyed by fire Saturday, September 12, 2009. The barn was used to store hay and house up to 19 horses.
Two horses and a potbellied pig who were in the barn when the fire broke out were able to escape. "The main thing is that no people or animals were injured or killed," said Susan Gutshall, Ryerss' Administration Manager. "The fire inspectors are here now, and we hope they will sign off so that we can begin rebuilding" the week of September 21.
Gutshall said that the cause, as of September 16 was still undetermined, though "they are leaning toward electrical." Four thousand bales of hay were lost in the fire. The barn burned to its stone walls, and the wooden floor collapsed into the lower level containing the horse stalls. Fire crews were dispatched to the farm at 1710 Ridge Road, Pottstown, around 12:40 p.m. The fire closed Rt. 23 through early evening. Fire crews used a backhoe to pull hay from the barn and drench it to prevent it from catching fire.
"The walls and part of the structure is there, but it needs to be totally rebuilt," Gutshall said. "We are hoping it will be done before cold weather sets in. We have 77 horses on the property. The other barn houses 60 so we will need space for the other 17 in the coming months. We have plenty of pasture so they are OK for now."
Ryerss' property was originally four different farms, and the barn was one of the original structures on one of them. "Historically, it's a sad sight," Gutshall said.
Though the barn was insured, donations are appreciated, Gutshall said. "People have been bringing hay in, which is much appreciated. Because we have limited storage, we are asking them when possible to hold onto tit until we have somewhere to store it. Financial donations are a big help too."
Ryerss is open daily from 10 am to 3:30 pm. Those interested in volunteering time or inquiring about how they can help the animals should call 610-469-0533 or stop by the farm during business hours. Tax deductible donations can be sent to Ryerss Farm for Aged Equines to 1710 Ridge Road, Pottstown, PA 19465.