CLEVELAND, Mo. - Donations have been pouring in since a barn fire killed several horses and devastated the livelihood for a family in Cleveland, Mo.
Peggy Knaus, still shaken from the experience, spoke with 41 Action News Friday and explained that her dad first saw the flames. It was 4:10 a.m. when he called her and the five different surrounding fire departments responded within minutes.
By the time the family got to the barn, made mostly of metal, Knaus said the roof was collapsed.
"I knew they were gone," she said.
Eight show horses she was boarding all died in the fired including Nemo, Baby Ruth, Blueberry, Destiny, Outcast, Skore, Banana and Annie.
"It's like losing a child. The two oldest ones, I was there when they were born," Knaus said.
She lost her only truck, a tractor and all of her supplies.
"The everyday tack and riding equipment that you use, saddles, bridles. That’s 20 years of accumulation,” Knaus said.
The horses were award winning animals with strong pedigrees, but more importantly, they were like family.
"The show horses like what we do, they are your partner. You go show with them and they have to want to do what you want at the level that we do it," she added.
Knaus' friends and family hugged and looked at the debris thankful for at least one thing.
The farm’s prize stallion, Nike, who sired all of the horses who died expect for one was fine.
"He has a considerable following. He has almost 2,000 friends on Facebook. He's famous. He sired a lot of really nice horses," Knaus said.
She explained that he was going to be moved to the barn next week.
By Tuesday, friends and even perfect strangers started dropping stuff off goods for Knaus. A single mom of three, the money from boarding and training the horses was her only source of income.
"This is what I've done for a living since I graduated high school. Those eight horses represented how we lived," she said.
While 41 Action News was shooting the story Tuesday, a woman named Donna Lews, who did not know Knaus, showed up to donate feed, horse blankets and other supplies.
For Knaus, she wants to rebuild and there are still other horses on the farm who need care.
Other people have anonymously dropped off supplies like buckets, a water hose, rakes, tack and she has even got cash in the mail.
The community is trying to help a woman they never met, feel like she's not alone.
“Good luck,” Lewis said while she gave Knaus a hug Tuesday.
“You just trust that God will take care of it. That's all you can do,” Knaus said.
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