Horse that escapes fire back at home

Blaze is back home.

The 12-year-old Tennessee Walker burned out of his barn when it caught fire Thursday returned to his home at 15115 Ramga Road Monday and his makeshift stall.

In a steady rain, Lee and Ray Holbrook welcomed Blaze home and introduced him to his new living quarters until spring — an 18-foot square temporary structure made of scaffolding and 2- by 4-inch pieces of wood and a hot house canvas.

“This is awesome, totally awesome,” Lee Holbrook said. “We have had this horse since he was three months old. It is great to have him home again.

“I want to thank all the people who helped us with Blaze and Blue Boy, especially we want to thank Becky Noe for saving Blaze and Blue Boy from the fire. We had a cat, that is deaf, that didn’t fair so well.”

On Monday, the cat was in the Holbrooks’ home recuperating. Blue Boy rested in his new dog house donated by Jackie and Scott Martell, neighbors who live to the northwest.

The Holbrooks saved Blue Boy from being euthanized a couple of weeks ago. He was under the care of Auglaize County Dog Warden Russ Bailey when they rescued him.

“He was going to be put down and I couldn’t see that happening so I rescued him,” Lee Holbrook said. “He is such a loving and affectionate dog. He is deaf, but he already knows hand signals.”

If she points at the Blue Heeler, he stops, sits and will stop barking if he was barking. If she motions toward her, he comes.

Blue Boy is still on a long leash, but during the rain he rested with only his front paws outside the doghouse door as he watched Ray Holbrook help Blaze from Jim Owens’ trailer into his new temporary home.

The Holbrooks wanted to thank Owens for transporting the horse back to the homestead and they wanted to thank Karen Schaaf for transporting the Tennessee Walker to the farm of the Holbrooks’ friend, Teresa Chiles.

They also wanted to thank Nicole and Mike Schulte.

Mike Schulte and his friends started building the shelter for Blaze on Friday and finished Saturday afternoon. The structure consists of two stalls — one for feed and straw and the other for Blaze. They also installed a fence at the home — so Blaze could go in and out of the stall into a small field.

Schulte wrote on the outside of the stall near the entrance, “Blaze Established 2012.”

For the Holbrooks, who love to rescue animals, the rescue efforts for their two animals started Thursday almost immediately when the barn caught on fire.

Becky Noe, who went outside Thursday to mow her lawn, saw the fire first. She ran into her house, directly to the north of where the Holbrooks live, called 911 and ran more than 200 yards to the barn holding Blaze to help him escape the blaze. She also saved Blue Boy, whom she didn’t see but who was chained to a wall in the burning barn stall.

Noe, who along with her husband, Todd, served in the U.S. armed forces and she said she relied on her instincts to get Blaze and Blue Boy away from the fire. She walked them north across the long driveway to the Holbrooks home to safety, approximately where the new holding stable is today. The barn was on the south side of the drive.

Ray Holbrook, who works the midnight shift, said when he came outside he could not believe his eyes.

“I was devastated. When I came out and I saw the barn was on fire, I didn’t know Becky had gotten Blaze out,” Ray Holbrook said. “I just fell on my knees. I thought he was gone, then I heard her (Noe) holler, ‘We got Blaze.’ ”

Lee Holbrook, who works at Auglaize Acres, was at work when she heard there was a fire at her house. She went home and from Hamilton Street could see the smoke. As she drove down Ramga Road, she feared the worst and their daughter, Karen Johnson, met her at the end of the long drive.

“When I left, I bawled my eyes out and that is what I will do again now that he is home,” Lee Holbrook said. “I came onto it and my daughter stopped me and told me right away, ‘Blaze is alright, but the barn is gone.’ Then I said, ‘What about Blue Boy?’ and she quickly answered, ‘He’s fine, too.’”

Their daughter knew her mother would be hunting for the pair if she got closer to the house and she wanted to assure her they were both fine.

Blaze and Blue Boy are considered members of their family. The Holbrooks, who moved to their Ramga Road home approximately 10 years ago, got Blaze nearly 12 years ago when their seven children were all grown. Now they have 30 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

“He is so sweet, gentle and patient,” Lee Holbrook said. “He loves people and he loves children, he just loves the kids.

“He calms me and soothes me when I come home after a hard day at work by laying his head on my shoulder and just whinnies,” she said. “He just loves people, I don’t think he knows he is a horse. He is just something else.”

“He really likes the kids and if they are short, he will put his head down so they can touch him,” Ray Holbrook said. “He just opens a soft spot in your heart.”

After the fire, the Holbrooks said they were not surprised by a comment made by Buckland Volunteer Fire Chief Todd Vorhees about Blaze.

“The fire chief told us they have never seen a calmer animal at a fire, especially one so close to the fire,” Lee Holbrook said. “He stood across the drive and just watched them fight the fire. He has gotten out before and he never goes anywhere. He always stays close to home.”

Now Blaze is home again and closer to more people’s hearts.