08/06/2002 12:00AM

Woodbine fire still a mystery


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Firefighters continued to sift through the rubble of Barns 7 and 7A at Woodbine on Tuesday, but the cause of the Sunday morning fire that claimed the lives of 32 horses remains unknown.

William Hiscott, a fire investigator with the office of the fire marshall, and other officials were examining nearby barns, which are identical to the destroyed structures, to get an idea of their makeup.

Trainers were being allowed back into feed rooms located at the ends of Barns 7 and 7A. The feed rooms had been added onto the original barns in recent years and escaped much of the damage.

Equipment such as feed buckets, tubs, rakes, and possibly some tack will be recovered.

Ernest Tambwe, the only backstretch worker hospitalized after participating in the rescue effort, was back on the job Tuesday. Tambwe had suffered from smoke inhalation.

The Woodbine Entertainment Group and the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, along with several prominent horsepeople, have created a relief fund for those who suffered losses in the fire.

Trainer Mort Hardy spearheaded the "Barn 7 Recovery Fund" project and WEG and the HBPA each have seeded the fund with $10,000.

Contributions to the fund can be made care of the HBPA of Ontario, Scotia Bank, 135 Queen's Plate Drive, Etobicoke, Ontario, M9W 6V1; account number 96032 00562 19.

A collection box has also been set up at Woodbine's second-floor customer service center.