More than forty Standardbred horses have perished in a devastating barn fire in Ontario. The blaze started just after 11 pm on January 4, 2016, at Classy Lane Stables Training Centre in Puslinch Township, Ontario, approximately 20 km southeast of Guelph.
None of animals housed in the barn survived, and the cost of damages is estimated to be $4 to $6 million. At least 43 horses were lost, all Standardbreds owned by trainers who race at Mohawk, Woodbine, and Flamboro Downs racetracks in Southern Ontario.
Interior view of one of the barns at Classy Lane. Photo: Classy Lane Stables website
It took about six hours for fire crews from Cambridge, Guelph, and Hamilton areas to battle the blaze in challenging conditions. The fire engulfed one of the barns so quickly that none of the horses could be rescued. Parts of the walls fell in on the flames after most of the roof collapsed. Many of the other buildings on site were saved by the 50-plus firefighters who responded. Puslinch Fire Chief Steven Goode told reporters the operation was extremely challenging due to the cold temperatures, and no hydrants in the area. “There was a lot of water shuttle that was happening. So road conditions were not the best. We had road crews assisting us.”
Owner and trainer Ben Wallace, who lost 17 horses in the fire, told CTV Toronto that one of his horses that perished was Apprentice Hanover, worth more than $1 million.
This is a huge loss to the community, and many in the area are shocked and heartbroken. “Many of the workers that work here and owners reside here in our township,” explained Chief Goode. “We consider this a horse community and this is absolutely devastating.”
Apprentice Hanover, one of the horses lost in the fire, winning at Mohawk on September 13, 2014. Photo courtesy of Woodbine Entertainment Group/New Image Media
Jason Benn, Chief Fire Prevention Officer at Puslinch Fire & Rescue, told reporters “We do know the fire started at the rear of the building.” The cause of fire is not yet known and is being investigated.
Owners of stable, Barb and Jamie Millier, were out of town in Florida at the time of the fire, and Jamie Millier is currently flying home to assess the damage.
Classy Lane Stables’ website says the facility can accommodate 222 horses and opened in 2003. Each of the five barns can house at least 40 horses.
A GoFundMe page, created by the Central Ontario Standardbred Association (COSA), has been set up to support those impacted by fire.
Main Photo Exterior view of some of the stables at Classy Lane. From Classy Lane Stables website