LOWELL TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — An early morning barn fire Saturday is being investigated as suspicious after it killed 13 therapy horses in Lowell Township.
Crews were called around 2 a.m. to the barn located at 3203 Timpson Avenue SE in Lowell Township. The fire killed all but two of the horses at the center.
Fire officials say it took several hours to put the fire out. Authorities cleared the scene around 12:30 p.m.
Kathryn and B.J. Welton, the owners of Lowell-based Barn for Equine Learning, the loss is not just of animals or property, but of 13 individual souls they worked with to help kids.
“There has been total devastation that has been lost here today. We are a successful nonprofit that works with a lot of kids — a lot of at-risk youth kids — a lot of young adults. We provide community based services, therapy, a lot of community therapy services to kids in transition,” Kathryn Welton told 24 Hour News 8 Saturday night.
“What has been lost today is we have lost 13 of our closest family members,” Welton said.
Kent County sheriff’s investigators told 24 Hour News 8 that the fire is being investigated as a crime. State police were on scene and the fire marshal is lead the investigating which usually means arson is suspected.
“We will need a chance to grieve this loss and then we will rebuild. This is too good of a service to our community,” Welton said. “We need anyone who knows anything to step up — anything to be able to put this to rest.”
Anyone with information is asked to call the Kent County Sheriff’s Office at 616.632.6125 or Silent Observer at 616.774.2345.
The horses have since have since been buried. The Weltons said they plan a memorial service for the lost horses they say were like family to them.