DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Orange County fire officials confirmed a lightning strike was responsible for a fire that damaged a world-class equestrian facility Thursday night.
A severe thunderstorm watch was issued for many areas of the Triangle late Thursday, including Wake, Durham and Orange counties. Strong storms producing 70 mph wind gusts, large hail and even isolated tornadoes were possible, in addition to heavy rain and frequent lightning.
The 12,000-square foot horse barn at DK-USA Sporthorse was damaged after it was hit by lightning just before 8:30 p.m., said Jason Shepherd, Orange County fire Marshall.
The facility is located near New Leaf Lane and Mt. Herman Church Road, which is just west of Durham near the Eno River.
All the horses were evacuated safely in the three-alarm fire that had crews from Eno Fire, Orange County Rural Fire, Efland Fire, New Hope and Caldwell responding to the scene.
The fire was still smoking as of early Friday morning.
DK-USA Sporthorse built a state-of-the-art equestrian center seven years ago and it was “pretty much a loss” from the fire, said Ole Strigel, owner of DK-USA Sporthorse.
Strigel said five horses were in the structure when the fire started and they were all evacuated safely. He says he plans to rebuild.