A suspicious fire on Jan 16, 2009 destroyed a barn in Bourbon County killing one horse. Stone Wild, a sire of a Belmont winner, was stalled because of an injury. The horse did not make it out of the blaze that only took hours to burn to the ground. The owners of the barn were devastated; they had spent over a year designing and building it. They had plans to board horses for the upcoming World Equestrian Games, but with only 250 days until the games, it's unlikely they will get that chance.
In Dec 2009, 43 horses and 2 people were killed in a deadly barn fire in Lebanon, OH. In 1988, a fire in a similar part of the county-owned racetrack and fairgrounds killed 35 horses. No one was killed in that fire.
Yet another tragic fire extinguished the lives of 29 horses in Nov 2008 at Riverside Downs in western KY. That fire was the fourth one in five years at the facility. All fires happened between November and January, when hay storage is at its peak.
According to Julie Balog, Assistant Director of Communications at Keeneland, "going back about 40 years, Keeneland has not had a barn fire on its grounds". Balog says the reason for this is preventative action. "Within the last five years, Keeneland added state-of-the-art sprinkler systems to every barn on the grounds. We also have our own fire truck that we maintain and keep on the grounds that could be used in case of emergency. In addition, we maintain a strong working relationship with government officials to ensure a speedy response from our city's fire department as well."
It is extremely important to check wiring, clean debris from electrical plugs, and get rid of any old hay that could be a fire hazard. Clean the lights to make sure they do not burn hot and start a fire. And of course, there should never be smoking allowed in the barn.