Updated on 09/16/2011 7:49AM

Evangeline fire said accidental


Arson has been ruled out as a possible cause of the Evangeline Downs barn fire last Thursday that killed eight horses, according to officials at the Lafayette, La., track. The fire was accidental, but the cause has yet to be determined, said Charles Ashy Jr., vice president of Evangeline.

Local fire department officials said Wednesday that an investigation into the blaze, which started around 3 a.m., is still ongoing. The investigation is expected to extend beyond Mardi Gras, considered a holiday in that region, and a difficult time to reach people for investigation purposes.

As for the barn, there are no plans to rebuild. "We could possibly put up a temporary structure if needed, but with the anticipated move in the next couple of years, it's not feasible to rebuild," said Ashy.

Evangeline Downs, which must move to another parish to be eligible to operate slot machines, opens for an 82-day meet April 13. The season runs through Sept. 2. During its downtime, the track operates as a training center, and is the year-round base of Hallowed Dreams, a winner of 25 races in 29 starts whose barn was not damaged.

-additional reporting by Jeff Taylor