Day At The Track

Barn fire in BC may have killed 20 Standardbreds

08:28 AM 03 Jun 2014 NZST
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LangleyBarnFire01.jpg LangleyBarnFire02.jpg

At least 20 horses perished Sunday, June 1 in a barn fire which took place in Langley, British Columbia.

The reports state the barn that caught fire was located on 224th Street near 40th Avenue.

It has been reported that the majority of the horses stabled in the barn were trained by Bill Davis and owned by Rick Mowles of the J J J Stables. Investigations into the cause of the fire are currently underway. Early reports indicated that no horses made it out of the blaze.

Pat Walker, the assistant fire chief with the Township of Langley, has told the CBC that two people from an adjacent barn were treated for smoke inhalation and were later released. Walker also said that the cause of the blaze is unknown at this time.

"At this point in time, we're aware of at least 20 horses that perished in the fire, so we're in the overhaul process right now and due to the nature of the construction of the barn and the contents, we'll have to get a machine to clear the tin off and get at the animals," Walker told the CBC.

A report which appears on the website of the Vancouver Sun states that 17 Standardbreds, which were valued at up to $1 million, lost their lives in the blaze. The report also quotes Harness Racing BC Executive Director Jackson Wittup as saying that the horses were mainly two and three-year-olds. "They're all young horses so you're hoping they're the next world champion," Wittup said. "They had some great expectations of some of them." The article explains that an older pacing mare and a miniature horse were among those that lost their lives in the fire.

Township district fire chief Russ Jenkins told the Langley Advance that the fire department had to send out a second call, as more resources were needed to respond to the blaze. The report states that blaze required the help of several fire halls, 60 to 70 firefighters and five engines.

The response to Sunday’s devastating stable fire in Langley, British Columbia has been swift, as the horse racing community is already mobilizing efforts to get affected horsepeople back on their feet.

Horseman Walter Slopianka contacted Trot Insider first thing Monday morning and explained that efforts are already well underway to get Davis back on his feet.

“Along with the devastating loss of all the horses, Bill and Laurie Davis lost their entire livelihood as well,” Slopianka said. “It was a total loss of everything they have worked their lives to build.”

“As a close personal friends, we (Slopianka and his wife, Brenda Arsenault) are sending condolences and are reaching out to Canadian horsemen for donations of any kind,” Slopianka explained. “Anything and everything horse racing related was lost, from water buckets, harnesses, etc. to all of Bill's racing colours and helmets. Anything extra that people can spare would be greatly appreciated.”

Please contact Slopianka by phone at 780-996-9711 or email at Those in BC can contact Donna Cunningham at 604-626-6934.

Slopianka explained that an account will be set up as well to take any financial donations. Information will be posted available as soon as possible.

Slopianka told Trot Insider that news of the fire really hit home. "As I was stabled at the farm with them as little as a month ago, Bill and Laurie were always ready and willing to help us when we had issues,” he said. “Now it's our turn to do the same."

With reports from Standardbred Canada, CBC News and the Langley Advance

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