BMH Fire

Barn burns at hunt club
No injuries reported in night’s fourth thunderstorm-related fire

Web posted Saturday, June 1, 2002

By Melissa Hall
Columbia County Bureau Pictures Letters From the Master Cleanup Begins New Barn Drawing Club House Drawing Club House Drawing (B) Barn Raising Pictures

THOMSON – Lightning is believed to be the cause of a Friday morning fire that destroyed one of three barns owned by The Belle Meade Hunt Inc.
No horses or people were injured in the blaze, which was reported by firefighter Jack Medford about 1 a.m. as he was returning from fighting three other fires that had broken out in the county during thunderstorms Thursday evening.

Mr. Medford saw the glow of the fire as he was driving home on Georgia Highway 78 several miles away. He drove to the hunt club and called the McDuffie County Fire Service, a volunteer fire department, Mr. Wilson said.

“The two annexes are fine, only because the fire department got here so fast,” said Epp Wilson, the president of The Belle Meade Hunt. “The corner of one of the barns actually touches the barn that burned. They did a remarkable job of saving it.”

Located on Wrightsboro Road in McDuffie County, the 24-year-old barn that burned contained 20 stalls, along with an unoccupied caretaker’s apartment. Mr. Wilson said he does not have an estimate of the damage.

The 10 horses on the grounds were out in the field at the time of the fire and were not injured. Belle Meade Hunt members were busy Friday morning trying to repair a well that supplies water to the animals and to restore power to the barns.

The fire was the hunt club’s second loss in two months. Mr. Wilson’s father and longtime hunt master James Wilson Jr. was killed April 3 when he was struck by a car while crossing Georgia Highway 10 in a golf car.

The Belle Meade Hunt was organized in 1966 by Peter S. Knox Jr. and James Wilson Jr. Mr. Knox was hunt master until his death in 1993, and James Wilson succeeded him.

The hunt club’s annual opening meeting the first Saturday in November is the largest hunt club opening in the world, Epp Wilson said.

The barn will be replaced.

“The show must go on,” he said.

The fire service responded to three other calls that evening – the most serious was a fire that partially damaged a residence.

Staff Writer Sylvia Cooper contributed to this story.

Reach Melissa Hall at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 113, or