14 horses killed in Cape Breton barn fire

·2 min read
Joe Nearing says that 14 horses were killed in an early morning fire at a stable in Balls Creek, N.S. (Matthew Moore/CBC - image credit)
Joe Nearing says that 14 horses were killed in an early morning fire at a stable in Balls Creek, N.S. (Matthew Moore/CBC - image credit)

An early morning fire has destroyed a large barn in Cape Breton and killed 14 horses that were stabled inside.

Six fire departments were called to the blaze Monday at a farm on Frenchvale Road in Balls Creek just before 4:30 a.m. AT.

"Barn's gone, horses are gone," said an emotional Joe Nearing as he explained that three of his horses had died.

"It's just not a good day today. It's devastating, really.... It's your best friend, that's all I can say. There's no other way to explain it."

Nearing said most of the animals killed were standardbred horses trained to compete in harness racing at tracks in nearby North Sydney and Inverness.

Matthew Moore/CBC
Matthew Moore/CBC

An investigator from the provincial fire marshal's office was on scene Monday. The cause of the blaze remains under investigation.

North Sydney fire Chief Lloyd MacIntosh saw "a large glow in the sky" as crews made the 10-minute drive to where the fire was raging.

Matthew Moore/CBC
Matthew Moore/CBC

MacIntosh said by the time they arrived in Balls Creek, most of the barn was gone.

"The foundation was there and a couple of the corners were still standing. It was a steel exterior barn and most of it had collapsed already by the time we got there," he said.

MacIntosh said the barn contained about 150 bales of hay used for horse feed, which created a challenge for firefighters because hot spots kept appearing within the hay itself.

Because the barn is located in a rural area without fire hydrants, water was brought in by tanker truck.

Matthew Moore/CBC
Matthew Moore/CBC

Willie Seymour, president of the Cape Breton Horsemen's Association, said the fire has shaken the harness racing community.

Seymour said some of the horses were used in racing competitions, while other younger horses were being trained for such events.

"With losing a potential of 14 horses that would be on your race card, that's quite an impact," he said.

Seymour said the community is looking to see how it can help owners who lost their horses in the fire.

Matthew Moore/CBC
Matthew Moore/CBC

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