Five Horses Killed In Central Kentucky Fire

"It was the worst thing I've ever seen, and I hope I never have to see anything like it again," said Jane Lyon on Jan. 14, just hours after an early-morning fire destroyed a barn and killed five horses on the Central Kentucky farm that she operates with her husband, Frank.

"The barn is a structure, and I really don't care very much about things," continued Mrs. Lyon, who reported that most of the building was gone by the time she arrived at the scene before dawn. "But I do care that horses were lost. It's very tragic, and it bothers me to think about them."

The barn was located on property that the Lyons' Summer Wind Farm near Georgetown leases to veterinarian David Lambert. Horses stabled in the mostly wooden structure were under the management of Twin Spires Inc., a buying, breeding, and sales operation. Incorporation documents filed with the Kentucky Secretary of State's office identify Lambert as the president and sole officer of Twin Spires.

No horses owned by the Lyons were involved in the blaze. Their 15-member broodmare band includes the dams of 1997 champions and Horse of the Year contenders Favorite Trick and Skip Away. "Yes, I'm thrilled that our mares are healthy and happy and fine," Mrs. Lyon said. "But it's difficult because I don't like to see something like this happen to anyone else's horses. We can be thankful that no human was hurt or killed and that not all the horses in the barn died."

Noel Murphy, farm manager for Twin Spires, said four broodmares and a gelding were killed in the blaze. He declined to give their names, but said all were insured. He estimated their value at around $400,000. One of the horses, according to the farm manager, was owned by Twin Spires.

Eight pregnant mares and a mare and her foal were saved. Murphy praised the efforts of night watchman Jerry Thomas, who threw open stall doors after he saw the fire starting in the center of the barn, which was engulfed quickly by flames. "He ran down one side of the barn and back up the other opening doors," Murphy said. "It seems like he got most of them open, but, unfortunately, not all of the horses ran. He did a hell of a job getting out the horses he did. He had the sense to see that it (the fire) was going to become something big."

The animals which survived did not appear to have suffered any major injuries, according to Murphy, who lives nearby and learned about the blaze through a phone call.

Another barn will be built, said Summer Wind's Frank Lyon, but possibly not on the site of the incinerated building. The barn was insured, but Lyon, still waiting to receive information from insurance adjusters two days after the fire, was not sure how much it would cost to replace.

Jim Kanavy, a firefighter with the Scott County Fire Department, said the report of the fire was received at 5:33 a.m., but that by the time trucks reached the farm "there was no roof" on the barn and "two walls already had collapsed." A member of the Georgetown-Scott County Cause and Origin Task Force, Kanavy was involved in the subsequent investigation, which ruled out arson. The source of the fire was believed to be an electrical appliance in the center of the barn, he said.

About the Author

Deirdre Biles

Deirdre Biles is the Bloodstock Sales Editor for The Blood-Horse magazine.

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