Race Horses Killed In Charles Town Barn Fire

6:36 PM, Sep 6, 2010   |    comments
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CHARLES TOWN, WV (WUSA) -- A barn fire killed more than two dozen race horses in Charles Town, West Virginia.

"It was like a towering inferno, you could see the timbers all throughout the stalls, there were still horses kicking in there, described Barn Owner, Ken Grey. 

Grey tried to rescue as many animals has he could around 4:30 am when the blaze started. "I really thought that might catch on fire because the heat was so bad."

All the horses are thoroughbreds. Owners race them across the street at the Charles Town Race Track. Horse Trainer Don Poper, who shares a close bond with the horses, put his life on the line for the animals.

"You talk to them, let them hear your voice, other horses knew that someone was there, leading a horse, and they wanted to be freed also and just that thought of knowing you can't go back in that barn, it eats you," explained Poper. 

A total of twenty-seven horses were lost in the fire but if it were not for a barn owner, horse trainer and an employee from the Hollywood Casino, the devastation may have been worse.

Grey said "Horses were running loose everywhere."

The Charles Town Independent Fire Company says the fire started in the first barn but that it's too early to determine the cause. Three old wooden-designed barns burnt very quickly.

Chief Ed Smith said, "When we arrived on the scene, there was fire blowing out on the roof thirty to fifty feet in the air, three barns were totally involved, it had a big jump on us."

A firefighter and a casino employee suffered smoke inhalation. Both have been treated and released from Jefferson Memorial Hospital. The loss is has hurt everybody involved.

"Basically it's a money business. You are in it to win what you can win but on the second hand, after your around them you become attached to them and they become like your family," Poper told us.

Grey added, "It's an emotional loss and most of these people will never recover."

The West Virginia State Fire Marshal is handling the investigation. The damage estimates are over a million dollars. Forty horses were rescued.

Written by Alex Trevino
9NEWS NOW & wusa9.com

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