By Jennifer Mayerle

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A high school senior says he didn’t think twice about stopping to help when he saw a barn on fire.

Wyatt Stueven arrived before the fire trucks, and horses were trapped inside. The fire happened one week ago on Bolton Drive in Chatham Township. That’s near Buffalo.

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“It was a big fire. The flames were monstrous,” Stueven said.

The outline of the barn is now all that remains. The 17-year-old was driving by the horse ranch a week ago and immediately put on the brakes.

“I wanted to make sure everyone was OK,” Stueven said.

He found the barn manager, Ron Winget.

“I saw him running from by the tractor. I think his plan was to tear down the side of the barn with the tractor,” Stueven said.

But the tractor wouldn’t work. Stueven quickly learned more than a dozen horses were trapped.

“He ran over by me and just kind of fell to his knees and looked at the fire, could tell he was heartbroken that the horses were in there,” Stueven said.

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He and Winget worked to release four horses that were housed in other places.

“There were two in the shed and two in the barn, and we got those out,” Stueven said.

Stueven said he can’t imagine not lending a hand. Helping others is a trait his parents instilled in him and his siblings.

“I always like to help people, whether even if it’s a flat tire or somebody goes in the ditch. I would’ve felt terrible if I didn’t stop,” Stueven said.

Nine horses died, but Stueven is thankful four survived. After the rescue, Stueven needed to be treated for smoke inhalation, but his mind was on the horses and the man who had just lost so much.

“It was sad. They’re not my horses but it’s not any way for animals to go to be trapped in there in the fire,” Stueven said.

Fire departments from Buffalo, Maple Lake and Monticello responded and prevented the fire from spreading to other buildings. The cause may be electrical.

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Stueven said Winget has invited him to come back for dinner sometime, and to spend time with the four horses that survived.

Jennifer Mayerle