WESTFORD, Mass. (AP) — A sheet metal barn collapsed under the weight of snow on Friday morning, killing two horses and sparking an hours-long rescue effort that saved five others.
Firefighters, public works crews and others responded to Bobby's Ranch in Westford, about 35 miles northwest of Boston. The effort continued into Friday afternoon as authorities used shovels to try to reach the two horses that died.
Workers at the ranch rescued some horses before local authorities arrived and pulled others from the debris.
"Very devastating. This is my life," ranch employee Katie Demingware told WCVB-TV. "These are my animals, you know. They're awesome, and you know, it's just so devastating to see them trapped."
Robert Haigh, the 84-year-old owner of the ranch, told The Boston Globe he had pushed snow off the roof and onto the northern side of the Quonset hut-style building, but he couldn't get to the northern side to remove the snow piled against the barn because it was in an environmentally protected area.
"I just wish it didn't happen," Haigh said. "That's all you can do."
Haigh owned one of the horses that died, and the other was being boarded at the ranch by its owner. That part of the ranch is home to about 32 horses that were free to come and go from the barn. The family-owned ranch offers trail rides, riding lessons and horse boarding.
Westford Fire Lt. Donald Parsons said the rescue operation was long and technical but "unfortunately the outcome wasn't what we were hoping for."
"They worked very, very valiantly, doing the best that they could to try to save these two horses," he said. "... On the bright side, there were quite a few horses that actually were spared."
Recent storms have buried the Boston area under more than 8 feet of snow. Officials said there have been more than 100 full or partial roof collapses in the state over the past week.