09/07/2010 9:57AM

West Virginia barn fire kills 27 horses

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A fire early Monday morning in three horse barns adjacent to the Charles Town Races in Ranson, W.Va., has killed at least 27 horses, while another 20 were rescued, according to Lenny Hale, the executive director of the Charles Town Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association. The cause of the fire is under investigation, although media reports have quoted local fire officials as saying it probably was accidental.

Two of the barns were owned by Sharon and Freddy Johnson, and a third by Steve Spears. The names of the individual horses and their owners were not immediately available.

The old wooden barns had been in various states of disrepair and deterioration for years. They were not owned or managed by the Charles Town Races and were used as a sort of overflow station for horses that trained or raced at the track.

Hale said the national HBPA was getting involved and that information for people wanting to offer assistance would soon be made public.