Eight prize-winning show horses were killed as a result of early morning fire inside a metal barn in Cleveland.
Seven American paints and one quarter horse boarded in the barn died in the blaze at Knaus Show Horses, a farm located three miles east of Cleveland near Groh Road and 255th Street.Oct. 25.
In addition to the loss of the horses, all which were owned by 41-year-old Peggy Knaus’s customers, the family’s training equipment was also destroyed.
The hardest part of all of the loss is the individual animals. Knaus said they become your companions.
Knaus said her family, especially her daughter, are devastated as a result of the horses.
They’re like your children, she said. Two of them my daughter showed for many, many years. You move on but you don’t replace them.
Knaus’s father, who was the first to see flames coming from the barn at 4:10 a.m., awakened her and alerted the Dolan-West Dolan Fire Protection District who responded to the barn within minutes.
“My father heard commotion and it woke him up,” Knaus said.
Four other fire departments responded to the scene. Ten to 12 fire crews had to make multiple four-mile trips back and forth from the farm to Midway School for additional water to fight the blaze. Firefighters used 11,000 gallons of water was used to put out the fire within the 120-foot-by-120-foot barn.
The Missouri State Fire Marshals office has ruled the cause to be undetermined due to the extent of damage, which was a total loss.
Knaus is awaiting a full fire investigation report from the state for further answers as to what may have caused the blaze.
The value of the horses has been set at between $300,000 and $400,000.
“They were considerably expensive show horses,” Knaus said.
None of the equipment in the barn was insured.
Knaus told GoHorseShow.com that she would appreciate any donations of equipment to help rebuild her business.
“We are devastated to say the least,” Knaus told the website. “None of our tack or equipment was insured. We lost everything we had.”
She and the paints were also soon to be headed for the 2013 American Paint Horse Association World Championship Show in Ft. Worth.
A long time horse trainer, Knaus trained her first horse for payment at 13. She went into business for herself in 1996.
Knaus is the owner of All Time Fancy, a well-known prized stallion in the horse community nicknamed “Nike” by his fans.
Nike was sparred in the fire because he has his own barn and pasture area, but all of the paints killed in the fire were his offspring.
Other horses were at the farm during the time in the fire but were being kept in a pasture area. Several barn cats also survived the incident.
Knaus said she relocated her business from Kansas City to Cass County in mid-July, and hopes to rebuild her business in Cleveland if her leaseholder keeps their intention to rebuild on the property.
“It’s so beautiful here -- lots of trees, ponds and beautiful rolling pasture,” she said.
Prior to moving to Cleveland, Knaus spent 12 years in Raymore before relocating to Overland Park and later near the Legends.
“I was looking for a place that had more pasture space for my younger horses,” she said. “I love the land (in Cleveland).”
She also said she was impressed with the 20-year-old barn on the property.
“The barn was probably the best-built barn I’ve ever been in,” Knaus said.
But now, everything Knaus had is gone.
“I don’t know if you can recover from something like this,” she said. “You just have to go forward.”
In the meantime, monetary donations can be given to the Peggy Knaus Show Horses Barn Fire Relief Fund at www.fundrazr.com.
Equipment can be delivered to 4406 E. 253rd St., Cleveland.
Donald Bradley of The Kansas City Star contributed to this article.