FARMINGTON — Farmers showing up with truckloads of hay and farm equipment.

Neighbors stopping by with home-cooked meals and blankets.

Those are examples of the outpouring of support being given to Knowlton Corner Farm since a fire destroyed a barn and indoor riding stable Dec. 29, according to Arleen Masselli, who owns and runs the farm with her husband.

The couple has been given vital supplies to take care of their animals, keeping their business afloat while they find ways to support the nearly 20 horses boarded at the farm, Masselli said.

Before the deliveries started arriving to replace items that burned, Masselli said her family hadn’t fully realized how much they had invested in the business.

“It’s the simple things you don’t even think of until you need them, and something as basic as a pitchfork to move hay or buckets to feed the horses can make a big difference,” she said.


Masselli, 53, and her husband, Robert, 52, spent most of last week outside tending the horses and cleaning up a giant pile of rubble, picking through the charred remains of the barn and stable, she said.

With people showing up to drop off a warm meal or supplies, Masselli said she would often get overwhelmed by the generosity of neighbors, friends and strangers alike.

“We’re out there trying to fix things and put our lives back together, and to have so many people come baring gifts makes all the difference in the world,” she said.

“Words can’t even begin to describe what they have done for us and how grateful we are.”

As of Thursday, most of the horses remained at the farm while the couple kept looking for alternative boarding sites. The couple installed two temporary shelters and converted other buildings on the property to store the hay and other supplies.

Masselli on Thursday also praised emergency responders once again for keeping the fire from spreading to her house, which is just a few yards away from the barn that burned.


Two men driving by saw the flames shooting out of the barn shortly before 4 a.m. that morning. Masselli and her husband awoke to the men pounding on the windows and doors of their house, where they live with two elderly male relatives and a longtime employee and her two teenage children.

Everyone got out safely, including several pets, and firefighters arrived to douse the house with water from fire hoses. They also used the water to beat back the flames being blown by high winds from the barn toward the home.

“I can’t extend my appreciation enough to the fire department for saving my home,” Masselli said.

Investigators could not determine where the fire started because of the extensive damage to the barn and stable, according to Sgt. Ken Grimes, with the Maine fire marshal’s office. They do not believe foul play caused the fire, he said.

Masselli said Thursday that her family has not decided yet if they plan to rebuild the barn complex, which was insured. Brand new kitchen equipment for the couple’s baked goods business also burned in the fire, she said.

Since buying the farm 15 years ago, the couple had invested thousands of dollars to start their own business, a horse-boarding stable that also specialized in training, riding and providing therapy for mentally and physically disabled people, Masselli said.


The indoor riding stable was 60 feet by 120 feet and attached to the three-story barn, which had been built in the late 1800s and restored by the family, she said.

Local businesses and agriculture groups have placed collection boxes in the community to gather supplies and monetary donations for the family, according to Pamela Harnden, president of the Franklin County Farm Bureau.

There are also fundraising events planned for later this month in Farmington, and the bureau has applied to the state for disaster relief funds to assist the farm.

Harnden described the response to the fire as typical for the close-knit community.

“I’ve just had so many folks calling and saying what can I do to help,” she said.

David Robinson — 861-9287

[email protected]

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