At around 5am on Saturday, fire engulfed an 80-stall horse stable at the Warren County Fairgrounds. By the time firefighters arrived, the mainly wooden construction was engulfed. Media reports have quoted passers-by as saying that they witnessed the roof "cave in" and flames spill from the top of the building. 43 racehorses and 2 miniature horses died in the incident, and the bodies of 2 men were found later on Saturday.
"The horsemen of Lebanon Raceway would like to thank everyone for their support during this terrible time. Your thoughts and prayers are appreciated," said a company spokesman in a statement on the raceway’s website. They also provide bank account information should anyone wish to donate to a special fund.
Officials have yet to name the two men who died in the fire because they are trying to find family members to help identify one of the men. However, raceway insiders have said that veteran groomers Ronnie Williams and James Edwards have not been accounted for since Saturday. Investigators say they can not be sure, because workers are not supposed to spend the night at the barn. The state fire marshal’s office is working with the Lebanon fire and police departments and the Warren County coroner to identify the cause of the fire, but so far law enforcement officers have ruled out arson. The Lebanon Raceway suffered a similarly devastating fire in the lat 1980s, when 35 horses died in a fire.
One small piece of good news was that the stable cat called "Snatch" has been found safe and well after it was suspected that he had died in the fire. He had been missing for several days and the fire moved so quickly that it was assumed that he too had perished. However, the cat showed up on Tuesday at a barn next door and will now spend the rest of his days in the raceway owner’s house.