Day At The Track

Saratoga honors First Responders of March 28 Fire

09:56 AM 29 Apr 2014 NZST
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Harness racing
Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepsen presenting members of the Saratoga Springs Fire Department and horsemen at Saratoga Casino and Raceway for their heroic efforts that saved the lives of 30 horses during a March 28th barn fire.
Photo by Melissa Simser
SARATOGA SPRINGS, New York (April 28, 2014) - The first responders of the March 28th barn fire at Saratoga Casino and Raceway were honored during yesterday's race card. The ceremony recognized the heroism of the casino employees as well as local police and fire departments that arrived first on the scene and saved the lives of 30 horses.

On March 28th around 6am, Mark Harrington, Security Manager at Saratoga Casino and Raceway smelled smoke coming from somewhere in the backstretch of the property. He was approached by Earl Bean, a trainer at the harness track, who alerted Harrington to a fire that had started in barn number 15. Harrington, along with groom Mickey Block, began to evacuate the horses that were still inside the burning barn.

The Saratoga Police and Fire Departments were alerted as soon as security at the casino detected the fire, and arrived within minutes. They immediately began assisting with rescuing the remaining horses still trapped in the barn. A total of 30 horses were successfully saved and unharmed as a result of their rapid response. The fire was completely extinguished by 6:30AM.

Saratoga Springs Fire Department Captain, Tom Knight and his squad were the first to arrive on the scene. "When we entered the barn the smoke was extremely black and very thick," said Knight. "We crawled along the ground and actually crawled into barns to feel around for horses. The horsemen and firemen worked very well together to get halters on the horses and get them out of harm's way. We got really lucky."

"This could have been a lot worse had it not been for the heroic efforts of the first responders," said Jamie Hartman, General Manager of Saratoga Casino and Raceway. "We truly cannot thank them enough for their incredible act of bravery."

The cause of the fire was determined to be accidental and was believed to be started by an oat cooker that was left on inside the barn. Inspections of the structures located at the facility are conducted regularly by local fire officials, most recently in May 2013.

Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepsen was on hand Sunday afternoon at Saratoga Casino and Raceway to present a plaque honoring the heroic efforts of horsemen and members of the Saratoga Springs Fire Department.

Saratoga Casino and Raceway's backstretch includes 34 horse barns with 1,040 stalls. There are currently 600 horses housed at the facility. All horses that were displaced by the fire have been relocated to another stall on the property.

From Saratoga Raceway
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