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      Sunday fire destroys Ft. Madison horse arena, kills 6 horses

      An early morning fire gutted a well-known horse arena north of Ft. Madison Sunday.

      Denmark Fire Chief Neal Gathers said a fire broke out just before 1:40 a.m at the Four B Tack and More . Both the Denmark and Weaver fire departments responded to the blaze at 3077 170th St. West Point and Montrose fire departments also assisted bringing the total number of firefighters on scene to 36.

      Gathers said his firefighters could see the flames from two miles away.

      He said the nearly 20,000 square foot structure, including an indoor arena and horse stables, is a complete loss.

      The fire also claimed the lives of 6 horses, including one owned by Saundra, age 11, and Katie Beach, age 7, of Denmark. The two girls are nieces of John and Rena Beach. The girls used birthday and Christmas money from their savings account to recently purchase their first horse, a 10-year-old quarter horse named JD.

      The barn's owners, John and Rena Beach had just opened last December after taking over the location, formerly known as the B-Bar-B Western Store. The two-story tack store sells saddles, clothing, accessories and horse supplies.

      The owners said their stables normally hold 38 horses. Beach is thankful that Saturday happened to be a night where they let the horses out of the stable.

      Firefighters contained the fire just before 5 a.m. Sunday. A cause of the fire is undetermined, but an Iowa State Fire Marshal will arrive on scene to investigate Monday morning.

      Gathers said the building was insured.