Updated on 09/16/2011 6:53AM

Ocala fire kills 22 horses


MIAMI - A Saturday afternoon barn fire killed 22 young horses at the Ocala Stud Farm in Ocala, Fla., owned by the O'Farrell family.

Though they have not yet determined the cause, investigators do not believe this was an arson fire, The Ocala Star-Banner reported Monday. The horses who died were 2- and 3-year-olds in training, including at least two colts by the late sire Unbridled. The horses were owned by clients and not by the farm.

No people were injured in the blaze.

Farm officials were not available to comment Monday. Mike O'Farrell, son of Ocala Stud Farm's founder Joe O'Farrell, operates the farm.

The damage, which The Star-Banner report estimated to be between $1.5 million and $2 million, is difficult to assess now, according to Ed O'Rourke of Jerry Parks Insurance, which insured the barn for Ocala Stud. O'Rourke noted that the horses' owners would have insured their horses individually, which could delay a report of total losses.

"The cause-technicians working for the fire marshal's office are investigating today," O'Rourke said Monday. "It could be Wednesday or Thursday before the fire marshal will state a cause. After that, we will bring in engineers and construction people to determine if any part of the structure is salvageable."

The fire started at about 5:30 p.m. on Saturday and quickly engulfed the training barn in what Marion County Fire-Rescue battalion chief Paul Nevels told local media was "by far the worst fire of its kind that I know of in this region of Florida."