Stables torched in arson attack

Andover Advertiser: Danny Cooper surveys the charred remains of his stables Danny Cooper surveys the charred remains of his stables

A HUNT has been launched for arsonists who started a spate of blazes in the Hampshire countryside.

A pregnant pony almost burned to death when newly-built stables were set alight.

The 11-year-old mare, called Moomin was trapped in her stall after the culprits started a ferocious blaze that reduced the wooden structure to a charred ruin.

But the terrified animal managed to escape the inferno by clambering over the bottom half of her stable door as the flames took hold.

Later that evening, the arsonists entered another field a few miles away, torched a caravan being used for storage and tried to set fire to another new stable block.

Now the owner of both buildings, Danny Cooper, is offering a £5,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the culprits.

Mr Cooper, 67, of Totton, said he had no idea why they would target his property.

He added: “I haven’t done anyone any harm. If someone feels they’ve got a grievance, they should come and see me, not set fire to stables with horses inside.”

The first fire occurred in a field at Newbridge, near Cadnam, just before 9pm on Sunday.

Moomin is owned by Charlotte Meader, 27, of Romsey, who was at home when she received a telephone call saying the stable was ablaze.

She said: “I drove down there thinking my pony was dead, but arrived to find that she’d managed to get out.

“She must have reared up, put her front legs on the top of the stable door and dragged herself over. It’s amazing she’s still alive.”

Firefighters from Totton and Lyndhurst were quickly on the scene, but were unable to prevent the stable burning to the ground.

Now Charlotte is waiting to discover if Moomin and her unborn foal are all right.

“I’m horrified that anyone would even think of setting fire to a stable with an animal inside.

“She’s an innocent pony and nothing to do with anyone else,” she said.

The second fire occurred at Mr Cooper’s other field in Salisbury Road, Wellow.

The arsonists torched a caravan and tried to destroy a neighbouring stable block, but were disturbed by Mr Cooper’s son-in-law, Kevin Muddiman, who doused the flames with water from a trough.

The stables, which were empty, were left scorched but otherwise undamaged.

Mr Cooper added: “What kind of people are they? There could have been a nightwatchman in that caravan.”

Police are investigating both blazes. Anyone who witnessed the fires, or has any information relating to the incidents, should ring Totton police station on 101.

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