Man Charged in Lowell Barn Fire that Killed 13 Horses [VIDEO]
A man has been charged in connection with a barn fire in Lowell that killed thirteen therapy horses in April.
Wood TV 8 reports that Payton Mellema, 20, was arraigned Friday afternoon on one count of third-degree arson and one count of killing/torturing animals.
Mellema is accused of setting fire to The Barn for Equine Learning April 8.
The barn had been locked from the inside and the owners were unable to rescue the horses trapped inside.
According to Fox 17, investigators claim Mellema admitted to chaining the bar doors closed and starting the fire.
If convicted, Mellema faces up to 14 years in prison and $25,000 in fines.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to support The Barn for Equine Learning. The owners posted the following message after the fire:
It is with an incredibly heavy heart that I share the news that the Barn suffered a tragedy last night. We lost our barn and 13 of our wonderful horses to a fire. This information is so hard for us to process and it still feels like a bad dream at this point. We know that this is going to be challenging for every person who The Barn and the horses have meant something to. However, as is so often the case with each person who comes out to The Barn, we recognize that any tragedy and challenge can be overcome. We are not yet sure what the road to rebuilding will look like at this point, but we know that The Barn meant so much to so many people, and like any challenge we have met before, we will walk through this trial step by step and continue to fulfill our mission of reaching people wherever they are at in their lives."