LAS CRUCES - You might have seen an eerie glow coming out of Southwestern Las Cruces on Wednesday night. A suspicious fire destroyed a barn and came dangerously close to some horses on the NMSU campus.
"This hay was probably worth upwards of $75-80-thousand," Horse Center Manager Joby Priest said.
The fire sparked up around eleven Wednesday night, and flames destroyed a barn and about 150-tons of hay.
"It's a little suspicious because of the time of year more than anything," Priest said. "We've had this hay since about the first of July of last year, and it's just odd timing I guess."
Neighbors worked quickly to save horses and firefighters worked to stop the flames from spreading. Thursday the fire was mostly out, but the damage was done. None of the horses were seriously injured, but a lot of the food that they eat was destroyed.
"Here at the farm we have about 95-head of horses that we take care of, and it's their main diet," Priest said.
Some of the hay might be salvageable, but the horse farm is still out of a lot of hard-earned money. Students raise a majority of the funds for the horse farm and hay is expensive right now because of the drought. People don't have the water to irrigate, and hay takes a lot of water to grow. There's already a shortage of it in Arizona, and hay is not being cut in the valley right now because of the time of year.
"Now that we have to replace it, it's going to cost us double," Priest said.
The hay fire will have to be monitored for the next few days because hot spots could re-kindle.
Investigators are trying to figure out what caused the fire.
Late Thursday, the estimated damage was raised to $100,000.00. If you'd like to help the students raise money to replace the hay, call 575-646-2515.