CLINTON — Fire Saturday night tore through a large horse barn and attached apartment on Bellsqueeze Road, destroying the buildings and leaving a woman and four children homeless.

The owners of Starlight Stables, Corbin Penney, and his wife, Kendra, leased the front section of the barn from Denise Smith for his stable business, he said. He said he was able to rescue several horses and chickens after the fire broke out and local farmers have volunteered to stable the horses.

“I boarded people’s horses. I gave riding lessons and trained horses,” Penney, 27, said Sunday morning at the scene, where the charred remains of the building continued to burn and emit smoke. “There were 10 horses on the property and they’re all saved.”

Corbin Penney rummages through the remains of his Starlight Stables on Bellsqueeze Road in Clinton on Sunday. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

Penney said Smith lived in the apartment with her two girls, ages 12 and 16, as well as her granddaughter, 10, and grandson, 3.

The Penneys, of Oakland, were at the barn when the fire broke out.

“I heard crackling and I wondered what it was and there was smoke and told my wife to call 911,” Corbin Penney recalled.


He said he tried to put the fire out with a hose, but to no avail.

More than 400 round hay bales owned by a local farmer were being stored in the barn and they were all destroyed, he said.

“He lost all his hay, I lost my business and Denise and her family lost their home,” he said.

Penney said the fire started by “self combustion” in a round hay bale. Clinton Fire Chief Travis Leary confirmed that fire officials think it may have started that way.

“I’m going to leave it as undetermined, just because of the damage, but that’s kind of what we’re leaning toward,” Leary said.

The fire at 840 Bellsqueeze Road was reported at 6:30 p.m. Saturday and drew about 40 firefighters from nine towns, according to Leary. Clinton, Fairfield, Winslow, Waterville, Albion, Burnham, Canaan and Skowhegan firefighters worked at the scene and Pittsfield firefighters covered the Clinton fire station, he said. Clinton police and Clinton Fire and Rescue ambulance also were at the scene.


Kendra Penney walks in front of the remains of the barn that housed Starlight Stables on Bellsqueeze Road in Clinton on Sunday. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

The fire was difficult to fight, according to Leary.

“It was, just because of the large quantity of hay,” Leary said Sunday at mid-morning. “We pumped thousands and thousands of gallons of water on it and it’s still burning today. We’re never going to get it out. It’s just pretty much going to have to burn itself out.”

No one was injured during the fire, he said. He estimated the barn was 80-by-50 feet in size.

Penney said he has had Starlight Stables  about two years and has leased the front section of the barn for about nine months. Smith’s “massive” 14-stall barn had a 20-by-60-foot arena and was of older construction with some newer features, he said.

“She didn’t have insurance,” he said. “I have insurance on my animals and business and stuff.”

He said the children who lived with Smith had just gone school shopping and lost everything. The Red Cross was notified, according to Penney.


Meanwhile, donations are being taken at Tractor Supply in Waterville where people may buy products for the horses and they will be picked up, he said.

A post on the Starlight Stables Facebook page said late Sunday morning: “All horses are placed! Thank you.”

Corbin Penney said he and his family are touched and appreciative of all the support they have received in the wake of the fire.

“All the firefighters and first responders who came out last night — I’m just very thankful for their help,” he said. “The community really pulled together and helped out.”

He said he plans to maintain the horse business, though it may not be at that site.

“We’re going to rebuild, and Starlight Stables will continue on,” he said.

Leary said firefighters left the scene around 12:45 a.m. Sunday. At the scene later in the morning, Clinton firefighters pulled in to monitor the fire, which continued to smolder. A few horses remained in the pasture between the barn remains and the road.

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