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Posted at 4:46 PM ET, 09/ 6/2010

27 horses killed in stable fire

By Mike McPhate

At least 27 thoroughbred race horses died early Monday near West Virginia’s Charles Town Races after a fire broke out at a group of privately-owned stables, local and race officials said.

The fire started at about 4:45 a.m., and horse owners and nearby tourists worked to free the horses as fire enveloped several older, wooden barns across the street from the Hollywood Casino and the race track. About 26 horses were saved, let loose and later re-captured, said Ed Smith, chief of the Charles Town Independent Fire Company.

“It was feeding time and a lot of people saw the fire going, but it all happened very quickly,” said Ken Lowe, president of the Charles Town Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association.

Smith said investigators have not determined what caused the fire but state fire marshals on the scene said it was likely accidental. Two people — a casino employee and a firefighter — suffered minor injuries while battling the blaze, officials said. Three wooden barns were completely destroyed and a fourth was damaged.

Property damage was estimated at $1.2 million, and each horse was thought to be worth at least $10,000, although Smith said the value of the horses was “probably much, much higher.” Three different sets of owners, including two local horse trainers, have been identified, officials said.

Horse racing is big business at Charles Town, which opened in 1933 and is situated about 70 miles from Washington, near the Maryland and Virginia borders. The race track runs about 220 days a year and gambling revenues usually total in the hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Smith, who has served as Charles Town’s fire chief since 1974, said Monday’s fire was the “worst, as far as damage, that I’ve ever seen.”

-- By Derek Kravitz

By Mike McPhate  | September 6, 2010; 4:46 PM ET
Categories:  Crime and Public Safety  
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no excuse for this tragedy.....incompetent management

Posted by: OldSalt8 | September 6, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

This happens way too often.

are these barns inspected or up do code?

These are valuable horses and the horses deserve to be protected.

Sure accidents happen, but far too often
horses barns burn and no one is there to get them out.

Most barn fires are preventable, and human carelessness is to blame.

Something needs to be done to prevent so many fires at horse stables.
No excuse; for such a tragic loss.

Posted by: husker01 | September 6, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Incompetent management? These weren't barns owned or maintained by the track.

My prayers go out to all the horses and horsepeople.

Posted by: kathrynsmith | September 6, 2010 9:05 PM | Report abuse

27 is low balling it. I heard 40+ all morning at the track. I watched them burn(the barns). The first was 50+ yrs old and was to the ground in 30 minutes. It doesnt matter but these horses were not worth $10000 each few were worth more than five with some exceptions. my prayers go out to all the horses and connections. some people lost EVERYTHING. so sad.

Posted by: ctown2010 | September 6, 2010 9:22 PM | Report abuse

We lost one kind hearted filly. She was there for training and swimming. She was a fine race horse at CTown. I can't say how sad I am. We have lost horses that have broken down, retired horses to live on a farm, and retired some to breed - but I have never thought we would loose one this way. I owned 8% of this horse. I have lost some funds. The rest of our barn is safe.
There are some small trainers/owners that lost everything today - horses, equipment, stable.
These animals are just lost!

Posted by: tired13 | September 6, 2010 10:56 PM | Report abuse

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