Cause of Carson City-area fire that killed 9 horses remains unknown

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 2:25 pm on Friday, December 28, 2012

A poster created in memory of the nine horses that perished in a fire at Winterspring Dressage near Carson City this past August. — Courtesy photo

CARSON CITY — The cause of a summer fire that killed nine horses and destroyed parts of a Carson City-area farm remains unknown.

Michael and Sue Thome learned their barn was on fire when a passing motorist stopped and pounded on their door to alert them. The Crystal Township Fire Department responded to the fire around 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 10, at Winterspring Dressage at 5260 S. Mount Hope Road.

Crystal Township Fire Chief Lonnie Fitzpatrick said a fire marshal was not able to determine the cause of the fire due to the extensive damage. The cause of the fire is not believed to be suspicious.

“Officially, they could not determine the cause of it,” Fitzpatrick said. “It was unknown. We figure it started up in one corner of the barn.”

Fitzpatrick said the fire was perhaps the largest his firefighters responded to this past year. They were at the scene about seven hours and returned to extinguish a flare-up the next day.

The Thomes built Winterspring Dressage in 1997. They built a riding arena in 2003 and added a large horse barn in 2004.

Two of the show horses that died in the fire were owned by the Thomes, while the other seven were owned by other people who had brought the horses to the farm for training.

Michael Thome, who is also a veterinarian, said he and his wife typically leave the horses outside overnight, but a cold rain led the couple to house the horses in the barn that windy night. Eight to 10 additional horses housed in another barn on the property were not injured in the fire.

The Thomes estimate each show horse that died was worth from $10,000 to $50,000, depending on the horse. Some of the horses were insured, but some were not. The Thomes lost another estimated $50,000 worth of horses saddles, along with a pick-up truck parked near the barn, farm equipment parked inside the barn and multiple other damages.

Four of the farm’s barn cats disappeared after the fire, but one, Timmy, returned more than a month later.

“The community support and the general horse community support has been huge,” Sue Thome said. “We’re doing alright. We still have an empty spot out there. We’re kind of laying low until spring before we decide what to do. We don’t really know what we’re going to do yet.”

For more information about Winterspring Dressage, visit or search “Winterspring Dressage” on Facebook.

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