A killer fire that took the lives of many horses raged through the Gulfstream Polo Club barn in Lake Worth until Fire Rescue workers managed to put out the blaze.
There were conflicting reports about the number of horses killed but estimates place the number of animals between seven and ten, or even 12. Four other horses were taken to the veterinarian, Battalion Chief William Rowley.
President of Gulfstream Randy Aversano was at the club for an annual stockholders’ meeting when the fire took hold. Said Aversano, “Not one inch of the barn was not totally engulfed in flames when I got there. The flames were jumping 10 feet above the roof.”
Aversano stated, “I could feel the flames from 70 yards away. It was too late for anyone to get inside and save the horses. Everyone was in tears.”
Aversano said that the barn was not owned by Gulfstream which owns the polo fields and the clubhouse. The barns are owned by private businesses according to Aversano. He did not know if the barn had a sprinkler system.
A South Florida polo journalist, Alex Webbe, recalled another tragedy during the 2009 US Open Polo Championship when 21 horses died after a lightning strike.
Webbe said, “Many of the lost horses were “high-quality horses,” costing up to $50,000. Replacing them is not like buying a new car. The polo players work with the horses, they train them. They make a huge investment in these horses.”
John Walsh, president of operations of the International Polo Club of Wellington said, “Everyone is in a state of shock. The polo community is grieving.”
Fire Rescue crews arrived at the club around noon and found a dark column of smoke emanating from the barn. Parts of the roof had already fallen in. The firefighters arrived quickly. There were no noises coming from the horses, indicating that they may have expired from smoke inhalation even before firefighters arrived.
The firefighters had the blaze under control very quickly by 12:45 but continued to pump water onto smoldering hot spots. The crews managed to keep the flames from jumping to adjacent buildings.
Thirty one firefighters with nine pumper trucks and ambulances responded to the fire.
“The cause of the fire remains under investigation,” said Capt. Albert Borroto, Fire Rescue spokesman.
More information: Palm Beach Post
If you enjoyed this article by Heidi Rucki, please click the link above to subscribe and get others. It’s free, informative and anonymous. Read Rucki's articles on Examiner.com and visit her website, www.DressYourHorse.com.