Horses killed after Leeds blaze

George Murrell and his partner Judy Lee at the stables in Churwell

George Murrell and his partner Judy Lee at the stables in Churwell

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Horse owners have spoken of their devastation after two of their animals were killed in a huge blaze – just weeks after they moved to new stables.

George Murrell and Judy Lee had four horses at a barn in a yard on Hepworth Avenue, Churwell, along with ducks and dogs. But two Arabian colts – two-year-olds Diablo and Eric – and the three ducks lost their lives when a fire tore through the stables on the night of Saturday, May 16.

Mr Murrell, 37, managed to rescue his dogs after being called to the yard when the incident broke out at about 11pm, but was unable to save the horses.

He said: “It’s sickening. To see them in there being burned alive was absolutely horrible.

“Judy’s not been able to come down to the yard since – she just can’t bear it.”

Fire engines from Leeds, Hunslet, Morley and Batley were dispatched to the yard when the fire broke out.

They managed to demolish the wall of one of the buildings so that the dogs – two Staffordshire bull terrier crosses called Rosie and Sheldon – and two of the horses could be rescued, but the fire was too fierce to save the others.

The two that survived have been moved to another site until rebuilding work is carried out.

Trainee builder Mr Murrell, who lives nearby, said: “We had only had the yard for three weeks, we’d built the stables there.

“Now it’s all destroyed and we’re having to start again.”

He said he suspects the fire was started deliberately, adding: “There’s no gas or electricity down there so it couldn’t have been accidental.

“We have no enemies down here so why anyone would want to do this I don’t know.”

A spokeswoman for West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “The fire service’s investigations are on-going, but we have not established the cause at this time.”

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