A devastating fire destroyed a barn housing over 40 horses at a well-known Standardbred training facility in Ontario, Canada on Monday night.
Images and video from the fire at Classy Lane Stables in Puslinch, Ontario are chilling: clouds of thick smoke rise from the long barn which housed up to 46 Standardbred harness racers in training.
While the cause of the fire is still under investigation, what is known is that the fire broke out around 11:00 PM on Monday, January 4, 2016 and was spotted by a neighbor who called it in to authorities. Owners and trainers who happened to be on-site at the time rushed to the barn but could do nothing against thick clouds of smoke to help the horses trapped inside.
“The smoke was so dense that you couldn’t go near it. They probably all suffocated before they perished,” stated owner/trainer Ben Wallace according to CTV News.
While the barn housed 46 horses at capacity, at least two of the stalls were empty at the time of the fire, though a total count of lost horses is still unknown.
Classy Lane Stables opened its doors in May of 2003 and quickly gained the reputation for being one of the best training facilities in Canada. With close proximity to Woodbine, Flamboro and Mohawk race tracks, as well as including its own training track, jog trails and state-of-the-art facilities, Classy Lane housed some of the best horses in Canada and North America, trained by some of the top talent in the harness industry. Among those lost in the blaze was Apprentice Hanover, a champion valued at over $1 million.
50 firefighters from five departments were called to the scene and fought not only the dense smoke and intense flames, but temperatures well below freezing. Because of cold conditions, water had to be trucked in to the site, further hampering efforts to control the fire.
Our thoughts are with the owners, trainers and horsemen whose beloved horses and livelihood were affected by the fire, as well as to the owners of Classy Lane Farm, Jamie and Barb Millier, who were traveling in the United States at the time of the blaze.
Go hug your horses.