West Chester neighbors help farmer after fire burns down barn, kills 2 horses

WEST CHESTER, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- The West Chester community is rallying to help a farmer who lost his barn and two of his horses in a barn fire.

Longwood Fire Company says the fire started Sunday just before noon, and the barn was quickly engulfed in flames. It contained stables for nine horses and two apartments above.

"This was Don's biggest fear. It's an old barn, all wood except for the foundation, and it just went up so fast," said John Lavin, who lives on the property.

Don is Don DeNenno, who owns the barn.

Neighbors said when the fire started, DeNenno ran to the barn to try to save his horses.

His three tenants who lived in the barn, but made it out safely, also tried to help.

"I was scared out of my mind, "said Lisa Photopoulos, a neighbor.

DeNenno has burns to his face and hands. Two of the horses died, and the other seven lost their home. The cause of the fire is still unknown.

Two days later, neighbors, the equestrian community, and the firefighters who fought the flames went to work in the fields around the farm.

"If we can help them beat the rain, get their horses taken care of, that's what we're going to do," said Chief A.J. McCarthy from Longwood Fire Company.

The volunteers were building tents for the horses from the materials donated by neighbors who raised nearly $30,000.

They say it's to buy food and medication for the horses and supplies to rebuild fences and the barn.

"Everyone knows they can send out a text or a phone call, and we'll be there to help. So it's nice to see the rest of the community coming in and helping all of us," said Photopoulos.

Photopoulos says DeNenno would do anything for his neighbors, and in return, wants to rally the community to help him.

Neighbors add that the tents are a temporary solution, but overall, the horses will need a more stable home with summer coming.

They add they'll keep raising money until the barn is completely rebuilt.
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