Kitchener-Waterloo

Arson not suspected in Puslinch, Ont., horse barn fire, owner says

The Ontario Fire Marshal's office is still investigating the cause of a massive horse barn fire that killed more than 40 horses late Monday night.

Exact cause of blaze still unknown

An aerial shot of the aftermath of the barn fire taken from a drone. (David Ritchie/CBC)

Arson is not suspected in a massive barn fire that killed at least 40 horses earlier this week in Puslinch, Ont., the owner of the horse training facility says.

The exact cause is still unknown, Classy Lane Stables Training Centre owner Jamie Millier told The Morning Edition Thursday.

"Everything is still speculation until they finish their analysis and reports," said Millier of the Ontario Fire Marshal's (OFM) office, which is investigating the fire. 

"Why? That's the main thing you think about is why would it happen to a barn like that. Not very old, very well maintained, there was no smokers in the barn," Millier said.

Millier said the OFM is examining an area near the fire's origin, where there was some wiring.

"They're still working away at it. They've come up with where they think the source of ignition was and I know there was some wiring at that particular spot, but that's all we know," Millier said. 

The Ontario Fire Marshal indicated that their investigation would be complete Thursday and a preliminary report should be coming soon after. The OFM reported that Thursday morning there were still four investigators at the scene.

More than 40 horses were killed in the fire. Damage has been estimated at between $4-$6 million.

"It's just a mess. It looks like a bomb went off over there," Millier said.

Plan to rebuild

They do plan to rebuild and it would take approximately four months to have a new barn up, Millier said, but added it is unlikely they would consider installing sprinklers.

It looks like a bomb went off over there.- Jamie Millier, owner of Classy Lane Training Centre

"If you have sprinklers and the fire's in the attic, it's going to kill the horses anyway with the smoke and the sprinklers aren't going to put the flames out, but I'm certainly going to look at alternatives to see what we can do," he said.

'Unbelievable' support

Support from the community and others in the industry has been "unbelievable," Millier said. Local restaurants have dropped off hot food, while he has received phone calls of support "from basically right around the world."

As well, four GoFundMe pages have joined forces to raise money for those affected by the fire. The main GoFundMe page, which was set up by the Central Ontario Standardbred Association, has nearly raised all of its $100,000 goal within 48 hours. As of Thursday morning, more than $93,000 had been pledged and it did not include the funds raised in the other three campaigns or any money that would be mailed to the association.

Trainers at the facility are hoping they can piece their livelihoods back together after the fire, Millier said.

"They just don't know what's going to happen. I've had two of them so far tell me if they ever get horses again, and they hope to, that they want to be back at the same place at Classy Lane. But everybody just doesn't know whether they're going to get owners sending them horses, whether they're going to be able to get their needs of their harnesses and race bikes and everything back together," he said. "I think everybody's still walking around in a daze."

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