Fire destroyed a training barn at Mercury Equine Center in Lexington, Kentucky on Sunday morning, with 13 horses saved and 23 perished.
A lightning strike is presumed to have ignited a barn fire that raged early Sunday morning, December 18 in the overnight hours at Mercury Equine Center in Lexington, Kentucky. The facility is a 60-acre training center, including a 5/8 mile training track and a total of 160 stalls across three barns.
Facility employees managed to get 13 horses out of the engulfed barn and into nearby paddocks, though facility operator Eric Reed stated that the smoke was so dense that it was difficult to see. It’s unknown whether the facility was equipped with a sprinkler system. A cold front moving through the region caused temperatures to drop to below freezing with high winds and a thunderstorm, which is what officials believe may have started the blaze.
Reed also stated that though the local fire department is only minutes down the road, it took 39 minutes for firefighters to arrive on the scene. Reed reportedly called 911 twice to ask where the fire department was. He is calling this response time unacceptable, and the Lexington fire chief has stated that officials are looking into the incident.
Barn fires are every horse owner’s worst nightmare, and it seems that 2016 has been filled with tragedy after tragedy, such as barn fires in Ontario and at Old Friends Retirement Farm, as well as destructive wildfires in Nevada, Alberta and most recently in Tennessee that forced evacuation of horses. We encourage all readers to have a fire safety plan in place for their barns — check out our guidelines for fire safety for more information.
Our thoughts are with the owners and connections who lost horses in Sunday’s fire as well as to the staff at Mercury Equine Center during this time of tragedy at what should be a joyful time of the year.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise money to replace equipment lost, tend to the medical needs of the surviving horses and purchase feed and bedding.
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