Milton barn fire kills at least 5 horses, dozens more rescued in overnight effort

At least five horses were killed and dozens were rescued from a barn fire during a major overnight operation in Milton that involved stable staff, police, firefighters, paramedics and veterinarians.

The sprawling training facility is not far from Woodbine Mohawk Park racetrack

The barn that caught fire housed 40 horses, according to Milton firefighters. (David Ritchie/CBC)

At least five horses were killed and dozens were rescued from a barn fire during a major overnight operation in Milton that involved stable staff, police, firefighters, paramedics and veterinarians. 

Emergency crews were called to First Line Training Centre, near the corner of Arkell Road and First Line Nassagaweya, around 1:30 a.m. Friday for reports of a blaze on the sprawling compound. 

By the time police and firefighters arrived, staff at the facility were already leading horses out of the barn that was on fire, said Ellie Bale, an acting staff sergeant with Halton police. 

One firefighter on scene had considerable past experience dealing with horses and he was able to help others get horses to safety, Bale said.

A crew from the Halton Hills fire department battled the blaze while counterparts from Milton assisted staff. 

Many of the horses were noticeably afraid, Bale added.

"They were very startled. They were very spooked by the fire itself and by the commotion going on."

It is believed that the fire may have started in an area where machinery was parked, adjacent to the barn, according to firefighters. (David Ritchie/CBC)

Thirty-seven of 39 stalls inside the barn were being used, according to Milton fire Chief Dave Pratt. The facility is not far from Woodbine Mohawk Park racetrack.

Crews were not able to save two of the horses, while at least three others required "immediate medical attention" from a vet, Pratt said. All three were subsequently euthanized due the to the extent of their injuries. 

It was clear that the blaze originated on one side of the barn, according to Pratt. A tractor parked adjacent to that side had a block heater inside that was plugged into the wall, Pratt said.

"That appears to be the source of the fire," he explained. 

Investigators with Milton fire services are waiting for daylight to begin examining the scene. 

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