LEBANON, Ohio - Stunned horse owners, trainers and stable hands visited the blackened site yesterday where a barn fire killed two workers and 43 horses at a harness-racing track in southwest Ohio.
Warren County fairgrounds officials quickly hired excavators to pile up twisted metal and charred wood debris and remove the horses' bodies late in the aftermath of the early-Saturday blaze, which quickly consumed Barn No. 16 at Lebanon Raceway.
Fire investigators have ruled out criminal intent, but indicated that they haven't determined what caused the fire. Warren Fair board member Chris Lutmer said that officials wanted to quickly remove the horse remains to ease anxiety - he said that for most owners and workers, the horses were like members of the family.
"We wanted to get them out as quickly as possible so people didn't have to look at them," Lutmer said. "It's just like your pet lying down there. You see them almost every day."
It's difficult to estimate the value of such young horses, though regular harness-track winners can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Officials said at least six winners from Friday night's racing had been killed.