At 4.40 a.m. seven fire departments attended a fire at three wooden barns adjacent to Ranson’s Charles Town Races. The stables have been described as being older wooden structures and two were completely destroyed in the fire, with a third adjacent barn being damaged. The barns are thought to have been being used to house horses attending Charles Town Races. Two of the barns were owned by Sharon and Freddy Johnson and the other by Steve Spears.
It was feeding time and a lot of people saw the fire going, but it all happened very quickly," Ken Lowe, president of the Charles Town Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association, told the Washington Post.
The owners of the 27 deceased horses are currently unknown, and some 20 more horses were rescued from the property. 25 of the deceased horses were being housed in just one of the barns. The property damage has been estimated at being over $1 million and each of the horses are thought to be worth at least $10,000 each. Charles Town Races operated as usual the next day, but opened an unused barn to accommodate horses displaced by the fire.
According to the Washington Post, state fire marshals on the scene have made the early assumption that the fire was probably accidental. Two people, a casino employee and a firefighter, suffered minor injuries while battling the blaze. Charles Town Races opened in 1933 and is home to the West Virginia Breeders Classics. There is racing approximately 220 days per year and simulcast horse and dog racing 365 days a year.