Heroic girl, 15, risks her life to rescue 25 horses from massive stable fire

A 15-year-old girl is being hailed a hero after dashing into a burning stable and rescuing around 25 horses from near death, against her stepfather's orders.

Taking the reins of each kicking and jumping horse, 4ft-10in Madison Wallraf of McHenry, Illinois guided the frantic animals out of the fire-swept stable and to safety Wednesday night.

'I got kicked in the shoulder by one of the horses in there and I got knocked down a few times, but my adrenaline was so high at the time that it didn't really phase me,' Miss Wallraf told NBC Chicago.

The five-alarm fire quickly took over the 20,000-square ft stable belonging to M&R Overlook Farms without any fire hydrants in the area.

Twenty-one fire departments responded to the scene, carrying in water, but not before Miss Wallraf got there first.

Standing across the street from the ruins that continually smoldered by Thursday afternoon, she recounted her decision to run into the stable despite her stepfather's orders. Inside, she knew, was her own horse named Red.

Thinking fast, Miss Wallraf recalled to the Northwest Herald of dialing 911 on her cell phone and then tossing it back to her stepfather, Gerry Karlen.

Leaving his side, she then dashed into the billowing stable where her horse was trapped inside.

Finding him and guiding him out, she then repeatedly hurried back in, bringing as many horses as she could manage, at first two-by-two, until eventually she saw the flames overtaking them.

'...the fire started getting quicker so I just started wrapping their ropes around their necks and just tying them around my arms and pulling them out,' she told NBC.

'It was fast. It was like there was no time at all,' she told the Herald. 'It ate through that barn like it was nothing.'

Throughout her efforts, others - both neighbours and fellow riders - also participated in aiding the horses which firefighters said ultimately hastened the flames with the doors fanning oxygen to the fire.

'The smoke was down to about maybe 3-feet off the ground and I was crawling through,' she recalled of the moments before she finally pulled out.

Ultimately, not all of the horses were able to make it out with 18 by Thursday's count having succumbed in total.

'I just feel bad that they were some of the horses that I couldn't get,' Miss Wallraf told NBC.

Officials are still on the look out for two others who fled the scene.

She was taken to Centegra Hospital with fellow rescuer Shannon Weitzman, 21, for smoke inhalation.

The stable that trains and shows Arabian horses for competitions is considered a total loss according to fire officials.

The cause of the fire is currently under investigation, while not deemed suspicious.

Recounting the scene herself, Miss Wallraf's grandmother Elaine Haberkamp said she cried the entire way to the stable Wednesday night after hearing the news about the fire.

She said she didn't know what the damages were at the time and couldn't begin to imagine their consequences.

'You’re losing a wonderful companion that just happens to have four legs instead of two,' she told the Northwest Herald of the 18 killed.

'To lose that is horrible, and to lose that in such a horrible way,' she added, cutting herself off without finishing.

In responding to her granddaughter's heroism, however, she said that doesn't surprise her one bit.

'That's just her and her love of animals,' she said.

VIDEO Teen Pulls 25 Horses From Massive Fire

Hero: At just 15-years-old, Madison Wallraf's love of horses, especially of her own named Red (left), prompted the girl to dash into a burning stable and rescue about 25 horses from death

Responses to "Teen Girl Saves 25 Horses From Stable Fire (Video)"

  1. well done madison..unbelievable. Cool!

  2. A very brave and unselfish thing for her to do. Her actions show that she puts others before herself even in dangerous situations. God is looking out for her.

  3. Fiz says:

    What a terrific young lady!

  4. jenniferjnes says:


  5. Anonymous says:

    Madison - you are an Angel. Thank you for helping all the horses you were able to rescue. I can't watch this video or read this story without tears flowing down my face. Sorry for the loss of the ones who didn't make it. You are an amazing young lady. Your parents must be very proud; and there are many horse guardians grateful for your unselfish actions. God bless you!

  6. sjaan roeleveld says:

    i think that are are a wonderful angel,helping all those horses,god bless you

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