Ontario barn fire kills at least 12 horses

MOUNT FOREST, Ont. - At least 12 horses have perished in a barn fire in the second such tragedy to hit southern Ontario this month.

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The horses died late Thursday when fire erupted at a private farm in Mount Forest, Ont., northwest of Guelph. This fire follows a devastating blaze on Jan. 4, in which 43 standardbred horses perished in a stable fire at the Classy Lane Stables in Puslinch.

A person who answered the telephone at the Mount Forest property early Friday said all 12 horses were Arabian. He said he preferred not to comment further as they were "still trying to deal with it."

Mount Forest fire chief Dave Guilbault said he had been informed that one or possibly two horses had escaped the blaze, which erupted at about 10 p.m. and was extinguished by early Friday morning

"It's a large pasture here, so we know for sure one got out."

Guilbault said one person at the property, where the horses are both owned and boarded, suffered minor injuries.

"One gentleman was taken to hospital for precaution with a little bit of smoke inhalation and anxiety," he told The Canadian Press.

Guilbault said the blaze was contained to a single structure and that firefighters had "put up a water curtain ... so there's no damage to the house nearby."

He said although it was too early to say what caused the fire, he said there is speculation that a tractor might have caught on fire. Guilbault said firefighters were remaining on the scene until investigators from the Ontario Fire Marshal's office arrived in the morning to begin looking for the cause.

The Jan. 4 fire at the Classy Lane Stables in Puslinch has had a devastating impact on the horse racing community in southern Ontario.

Co-owner Jamie Millier said the economic impact reached deep into the closeknit, horse-oriented community and that groomers, veterinarians, blacksmiths and other professionals in the industry would feel the effects of the deaths for months to come.

Trainer Dan Lagace, who lost seven horses he had worked with, said the fire was more than just a professional catastrophe - it was akin to losing members of a family.

The cause of the blaze remains under investigation.


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