BAR HARBOR — The shed that burned on the property of Willowind Therapeutic Riding Center last week was reportedly home for a local woman and her two dogs and two cats.
Fire Chief Matt Bartlett described the small out-building as a total loss following the Wednesday afternoon fire. The department normally connects residents to services when they are displaced by fire.
They did not do so in this case, Bartlett said, because property owner David Folger had told him someone had been staying there, but “the information we got was that she had moved out. We didn’t offer any services at that point.”
According to Caroline Butler, she had been living in the building up until the fire. She said Folger had helped her out at a time she could not find an apartment that accepted pets, and she had been staying there for less than two months.
Butler was not home when the fire occurred. Her dogs were with her, and her cats escaped the fire and were later accounted for. Butler said the cats are now living with her mother, but she did lose most of her belongings.
“On the bright side, I didn’t have much,” she said, “but everything I had was important, or of sentimental value.”
Friends started a GoFundMe campaign online, which as of Wednesday had raised $3,875 from 44 donors.
“Caroline is having to replace all of her necessities, clothing, medications and food for her pets and find new housing,” wrote Candace O’Keefe, who set up the campaign. “Caroline has a huge heart and will always give to other people and their pets … Now she needs help from others.”
Butler said she is grateful for the generosity shown by friends and community members. She received pet food from the SPCA in Trenton and a “complete dog shopping spree” from the pet supply store Bark Harbor.
“It made me cry,” she said. “It was great.”
Butler said she is also grateful to have found temporary housing with friends for whom she said she has dog sat in the past.