Two horses were killed in a barn fire at the Belmont Racetrack early Tuesday evening, New York Racing Association and fire officials reported.
Elmont firefighters were alerted to the fire at 6:04 p.m. Chief Ron Conti said. NYRA reported in a statement that the fire was limited to Barn 60 at the track, which houses 60 horses. Of the total, 58 were rescued officials said.
Conti described the chaotic scene upon his arrival, with horses and backstretch workers running about in the heavy smoke that had filled the area near the blaze. “Smoke was coming out of both ends of the barn,” he said.
Firefighters had extinguished much of the fire within 15 minutes of arriving at the racetrack with the help of the barn’s sprinkler system, Conti said, with three backstretch workers reporting minor smoke inhalation injuries. They were treated on the scene, he said, and did not require hospitalization.
The Nassau County Fire Marshall is investigating the cause of the blaze, officials reported.
“The tragic loss of both horses will be deeply felt by the hard working women and men of the New York racing community who dedicate themselves to the sport and to the care of these equine athletes,” Dave O’Rourke, NYRA president and chief executive officer said in a statement. “That collective dedication and sense of community was on display this evening, when the heroic and selfless response of so many prevented further loss and saved the lives of dozens of horses.”