Ignoring warnings from her stepdad, 15-year-old Madison Wallraf dashed into a burning stable on Wednesday night and rescued 25 horses from the blazing fire.
Taking the reins of the terrified horses – in some cases just throwing ropes over them to lead them out – the 4-foot-10 girl guided as many as possible to safety.
“I got kicked in the shoulder by one of the horses in there and I got knocked down a few times, but my adrenaline was so high at the time that it didn’t really phase me,” she told NBC Chicago.
The 20,000-square-foot stable that belonged to M&R Overlook Farms of McHenry, Illinois, had no fire hydrants in the area, and the 21 fire departments who responded had to carry in water.
Tossing her cell phone to stepdad Gerry Karlen so he could dial 911, Madison raced into the stable to rescue her own horse, Red, first. Then she ran back in for as many of the others as possible – at first bringing them out two-by-two, and then, as the flames roared higher, just grabbing as many of their ropes as possible and pulling them out.
“I got kicked in the shoulder by one of the horses in there and I got knocked down a few times, but my adrenaline was so high at the time that it didn’t phase me,” she said.
Other people, including Madison’s 21-year-old sister, Shannon, joined in. But they didn’t have enough time to save 16 of the horses. Three other horses escaped on their own, and were still loose two days later.
“We know they’re out in the woods, we just don’t know where,” said McHenry Township Fire District Chief Tony Huemann.
Madison and other rescuers were taken to hospital and treated for smoke inhalation.
Here’s a video report from WMAQ, Chicago: