Seventeen horses perished in a large fire in Langley Sunday afternoon.
They were all in a barn on the property of the All Seasons Mushroom Farm, on 224th Street near 40th Avenue, and were elite harness racing horses that competed at Fraser Downs in Cloverdale.
It is considered to be one of the worst fires involving livestock in B.C. in recent years. They were trained by the Davis family, a prominent horse racing family in B.C. with more than 35 years of experience in the industry. They not only lost their horses, but a miniature pony, more than $100,000 in equipment and their livelihood in minutes.
Most of the horses were owned by Rick Mowles, a former director of Community Living B.C.
“It’s a terrible tragedy,” says Rick White, trainer and driver at Fraser Downs, who knows the Davis family. “I don’t know exactly what happened, the fire, but I don’t think there was one horse that survived.”
Assistant fire chief Pat Walker says they received a call at about 2:20 p.m. and when they arrived on scene the barn was fully involved.
“Due to the rural nature of the area that we’re in, water support was through our tanker support system,” he says.
“Due to the nature of the construction of the barn and the contents, we’ll have to get a machine in to clear the tin off and to get at the animals,” adds Walker.
GALLERY: Two of the horses that perished in the blaze (photos submitted):
Forty-four firefighters responded to the call and smoke could be seen pouring into the sky for miles around.
A few of the farm workers were treated for smoke inhalation.
Investigators were back on scene Monday morning, but the cause of the fire is still unknown.
“Obviously [the horse owners] were very upset,” says Russ Jenkins, district fire chief for the Township of Langley. “A bunch of our crews had experienced some of the people on scene and obviously they were distressed.”
He says the fire crews were also upset by what they found when they arrived at the farm.
“I’ve been here 22 years and I can’t say that I remember anything of this significance as far as numbers with the animals,” adds Jenkins.
White, says the animals are like family and he is hoping they will all be able to move on from this tragedy.
“You’ve got to start over and carry on, hopefully it will be all right,” he says.
A trust fund has been set up for the family. Donations can be made to ” The Davis Family Trust” at any Aldergrove Credit Union.
Money or E-transfers can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org with the password being mornasbigboy.
Supporters will also be holding a pub night on June 18 at the Langley Town Hall to raise money. Tickets can be purchased at A & T Equestrian. Organizers are also searching for prizes and sponsors for this event, along with equipment for harness racing, buckets, halters, stall gates, fly masks, sprays, grooming kits and all of the items necessary for horse ownership. Items can be dropped at A & T Equestrian at 4615 190 Street Cloverdale.
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