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Training Resumes; Fire Accidental

Published: March 17, 2016 1:21 pm ET

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Training at the South Florida Trotting Center resumed on Thursday (March 17) a day after 12 horses perished in yet another tragic barn fire for the Standardbred racing industry. Palm Beach County Fire Rescue has ruled the deadly blaze as accidental.

As an article by the Palm Beach Post explains, the county’s fire rescue squad now considers the investigation into what caused the blaze closed.

The article has cited Palm Beach County Fire Rescue as saying that “an unspecified electrical malfunction caused a catastrophic failure at the meter. This failure caused flames and sparks to ignite hay, feed, and other combustible materials that were stored nearby.”

Horsepeople that worked frantically to save the Standardbreds during the fire were able to get 11 out, but had to fight 30-foot flames, dense smoke and extremely hot gates.

“The horses came out and then ran back in, and these guys (the trainers whose horses were stabled there) ran back in after them,” well-known horse owner Sam Stathis, who is also the owner of the training centre, said Wednesday afternoon during a press conference. “We saved 11 horses. I don’t think any of them made it out on their own. We have a lot of heroes. We had a tremendous tragedy, but we have a lot of miracles, on top of the tragedy.”

Dale Gilmore, one of the conditioners that helped save horses, has been quoted as saying that “You could only stay inside for what felt like seconds … and the horses were scared. We had to force them out. The gates felt like fire.”

“It’s a worst nightmare,” said trainer Jamie Daley, who also did all he could to save the cherished animals. “You work with these horses seven days a week. They’re like family to you.”

The 11 horses that were saved from the blaze are being cared for, as the fire caused them to suffer smoke inhalation, while others are also dealing with serious burns.

A GoFund Me account has been established by Post Time with Mike & Mike to help the affected horsepeople. The group will split all funds raised through the site between trainers Roman Lopez and Thomas Haughton to help offset the cost of damages because of the fire.

Please join Standardbred Canada in offering condolences to everyone affected by the tragic fire.

(With files from Palm Beach Post)

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