A fire that killed eight racing horses early Saturday morning was deemed accidental.
Crews arrived at the Richland County Fair Grounds shortly after 2:30 a.m. to find a barn fully engulfed.
Eight racing horses were inside at the time of the fire but none of them survived. The barn was one of four on the grounds of the Richland County Fair. None of the other barns were affected by the fire.
Mansfield Fire Department Capt. Doug Bruce said that the flames were so intense, it was nearly impossible to save the animals.
“The heat from it is so intense, you can’t get that close to it,” Bruce said.
Owner Charlie Cochran said that the horses were like his children.
“I took off running down there, and the police officer stopped me, and I said, ‘Those are my horses in there. I have to get them out of the barn.’ He said, ‘It’s too late for that,’ and I pushed the officer away.”
Cochran said that it was a miracle that other horses in the other barns were not injured.
“There’re probably 15 to 18 other horses in the other three barns, and they concentrated on making sure the fire didn’t reach them,” Cochran said. “That’s really great. I’m glad nobody else had to go through what I had to go through.”
Cochran said that the support from the community has been tremendous, and he plans on continuing his racing career.
“We gave them the proper burial they deserved,” Cochran said. “They were great horses. All of them were. Five of them were really tough, great racers, so it was devastating.”
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