08/01/2013 10:09PM

Louisiana Downs runners perish in training center fire


An estimated 17 to 20 horses died in a barn fire at a training center adjacent to Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, La., on Thursday night, confirmed Dwight Viator, who lost five horses in the fire, including four-time stakes winner Look At the Time.

Viator said he was one of four trainers who had horses stabled in the barn, which he described as the first barn upon entering the River Point training center from the Louisiana Downs side. Viator also has a division of horses at Louisiana Downs. He said the fire broke out at about 6 p.m. Central.

“The barn burned down to the ground,” he said. “A fire started in one of the living rooms, the only room that somebody was living in, and I don’t know, it just went in flames.

“I got at call at 6 p.m., was here in five, 10 minutes, and it was gone.”

Viator said he was told one horse broke through the tie chains on the front of his stall and managed to escape the fire. He said it is the first time he has lost horses in a barn fire. Viator began training in the 1970s. 

“What really hurts me, it’s the way the horses die,” he said. “The way those that don’t get out suffer. These horses are like my kids, and the way they died, that’s just not fair.”

In addition to Look At the Time, Viator said the fire also claimed a handful of runners who had won their last starts at Louisiana Downs. Look At the Time, who earlier in the Louisiana Downs meet captured the John Franks Memorial, was a winner of 5 of 11 starts and $266,870 for Hooties Racing.

Jeanne Wolverton More than 1 year ago
I hadn't heard about this. It is so sad.
John Nicoletti More than 1 year ago
This loss is totally avoidable. No freakin smoking any where near where horses are stabled. PERIOD. Death by fire, has to be the most horrific and painful death.
Patricia Doyle More than 1 year ago
Nothing worse than a barn fire with horses in the stalls. This is a major tragedy. Thanks to DRF for posting the story. Maybe, just maybe if enough attention is brought to bear by us something will be done to prevent this. Doesn't anyone inspect these types of premises? I hope an investigation takes place quickly. Those who lost horses should not let this go.
MaxineBob More than 1 year ago
So sad......My condolences to Mr. Viator and all involved. And, no, it's not fair....but it seems that life is all too often not fair for whatever reasons. May those horses rest in peace.
Paul F More than 1 year ago
omg what a disaster....rip.......
Teri Blaser More than 1 year ago
My heart aches for the horses and what they went through, it aches for Mr. Viator too. My condolences to all. I agree that a sprinkler system would have possibly suppressed the fire or maybe slowed it down. Hindsight is 20/20. There have been a lot of barn fires in the past few years.
Carol Friedman Onyuru More than 1 year ago
So sorry for the loss of these beautiful animals. The barn was not maintained when I was there in the 1980's!!! Looked really run down 10 years ago. I'm sure the owner of the training center is saddened but doing SOME up keep may have prevented this tragedy! God's prayers to all the owners & trainers involved and to all the talented little angles now racing in heaven.
JoJo Zumwalt More than 1 year ago
Heartbreaking. God Bless them all. So happy that there was no human injuries or death. Such a scary scenario. Everyone should invest in sprinkler systems in their private training barns and at the tracks.And No one should EVER be smoking anywhere near a barn or stable. I saw an interview of the old ex-jock that said he was only able to get one horse out; he was in tears.
Jan Smith More than 1 year ago
A retired jockey rescued the one horse that got out, but he was unable to go back into the barn to rescue others. This was not a barn at LA Downs but at a nearby training center. http://timesfreepress.com/news/2013/aug/02/19-horses-die-haughton-la-barn-fire/
craig amundson More than 1 year ago
There is no finer gentleman in racing than Dwight Viator
MaxineBob More than 1 year ago
I would give you "thumbs-up" for your comment, but the system won't let me for unknown reasons. Mr. Viator's comments surely sound like they came from the heart...a very kind and good heart.