PUSLINCH, Ont. — One trainer says the deaths of at least 40 racehorses in a massive barn fire is more than just a professional catastrophe — it’s akin to losing members of a family.
Dan Lagace was working with seven horses who were being housed at the Classy Lane Stables in the southern Ontario town of Puslinch, about 20 kilometres south of Guelph.
All of his animals and at least 33 more died last night in a blaze that could only be subdued through the efforts of 50 firefighters from multiple communities.
Lagace rushed to the scene from his home in nearby Cambridge, but says he was helpless as the building that contained both his livelihood and loved ones was engulfed in flames.
The 38-year-old says he has virtually nothing left, since equipment amassed over years was also destroyed in the fire.
Classy Lane co-owner Jamie Miller flew home from Florida today to assess the damage.
He told TV news channel CP24 that five companies are out of business right now because they’ve got no horses — the help has no job — and the trainers have no horses to train.
The Puslinch fire chief says grief over what’s being described as a multi-million-dollar fire is not just confined to the owners and trainers.
Steven Goode says the community is now trying to process one of the most significant emotional and financial losses in its history.
Officials with the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office have launched an investigation into the fire, which broke out on a night when temperatures dipped as low as minus 20 C.
He says the dozens of firefighters from Puslinch, Guelph, Cambridge and Hamilton had to struggle with adverse conditions caused by the frigid temperatures, which caused hose lines to keep freezing up and created challenging road conditions.