TORONTO (AP) - A fire that killed 34 horses at Woodbine
Racetrack last August was arson, the Ontario Fire Marshal's office
said Thursday.
No one has been charged, and police were continuing their
investigation.
The fire raged through a barn that housed 120 horses at the
racetrack in the early morning hours. Total damage was estimated at
$3.2 million.
Earl Barnett, who lost five of his 16 horses in the fire, called
the arson ruling "a complete shock."
"I was under the impression it was a cigarette cause or
electrical, but deliberate arson - that's our worse-case scenario
thinking," he said.
Another horse owner, Steve Owens, said he always suspected arson
because the fire started in a part of the barn that lacked video
surveillance cameras. He lost 14 horses in the blaze.
Bill Hiscott, acting supervisor at the fire marshal's office,
recommended steps to improve fire safety at racetracks, including
the installation of sprinklers in stables, and storing hay and
other combustible material elsewhere.
Hugh Mitchell, senior vice president of racing at Woodbine, said
the racetrack has hired a fire safety officer and is installing
sprinklers in barns while upgrading electrical wiring and taking
other steps.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)