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Barn fire claims the lives of more than 40 racehorses

Fire took place at Classy Lane Stables in Puslinch, Ontario

By Diego Flammini,

An overnight barn fire south of Guelph, Ontario has claimed the lives of more than 40 horses that were stabled inside.

The fire at Classy Lane Stables Training Centre in Puslinch started around 11 p.m. Monday evening; fire crews from Hamilton and Guelph were on scene battling the blaze.

The facility’s owners, Barb Miller and her husband Jamie, received news of the fire while on vacation in Florida. They told The Canadian Press early Tuesday morning that firefighters were still on scene and it was too early to determine a possible cause of the fire.

Jamie Miller is awaiting the next flight back home.

The Millers aren’t the only ones experiencing loss as a result of the fire.

Classy Lane has five barns and houses more than 200 horses in total; most of which are Standardbreds and owned by trainers who race them at Mohawk, Woodbine and Flamboro Downs racetracks in the area.

Harness trainer Ben Wallace is among the group impacted by the blaze. He owned 17 horses and said visiting the site was tough – equating the horses to family members.

“It’s like identifying bodies. No different,” he said in an interview with Newstalk1010 in Toronto on Tuesday morning. “There’s 44 carcasses lying here. Buildings you can build but these athletes we have, we love, cherish we work with every day are gone.”

Wallace said when he arrived on scene, the smoke was so dense no one could go near it and believes the horses suffocated.

The Office of the Ontario Fire Marshall has been contacted and an investigation into the cause of the fire will completed.

According to the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association data from 2010:

  • More than 31,000 people are employed full time as a result of the horse racing industry
  • The industry spends nearly $2 billion on goods and services related to horse racing
  • $1.6 billion is spent in rural, agricultural communities

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