Rich Branca of Franklin Lakes had insurance on the Orange County, N.Y. barn where a weekend fire killed two dozen horses, but it was likely the owners of each of the victims didn't.
“It was one of the worst things I’ve ever seen in my life,” Banca told The Times Herald-Record .
One horse fled the fire, then inexplicably returned to the Mount Hope Training Center stable and was killed with the others, said Banca, who's owned the center nearly a dozen years and trains harness racers who run at the Meadowlands, Yonkers Raceway and elsewhere.
Nearly a dozen companies responded to the 3 a.m. fire Saturday after a center employee got up to feed the animals and found the barn ablaze, Orange County Deputy Fire Commissioner Vini Tankasali said.
Flames had fully engulfed the stable when firefighters arrived, he said.
They evacuated a nearby barn, getting other 30 other horses to safety, at the 65-acre, 230-stall training center, which has a training track and an indoor training pool for the horses.
Although a cause hadn't yet officially been determined Monday, Banca said he heard responders mention lightning.
A GoFundMe page was established for a trainer who lost everything.
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