Laurel, MD Thoroughbred Barn Fire, Nov 1964
ARSON SUSPECTED AS 35 HORSES DIE.
Laurel, Md. (AP) -- Thirty-two thoroughbreds and three stable ponies were dead or missing Wednesday as the result of a $300,000 fire at a barn of Laurel Race Course.
Most of the horses died in the flames Tuesday night but two were destroyed after suffering severe
Entries in the Washington D.C., International to be run at Laurel next Tuesday were 500 feet away and none was injured.
NIKOLAI NASIBOV, the Russian jockey who will ride ANILIN in the 1 1/2-mile race, was credited with rounding up three or four loose horses and walking them to safety.
John D. Schapiro, Laurel president, ordered an investigation Wednesday after a fire official and two of the four trainers who lost horses in the fire indicated the cause could have been arson.
Frank W. Burgess, head of the Anne Arundel County Fire Prevention Bureau, said the fire could have been caused by carelessness or arson.
Schapiro said Wednesday that track officials
"have no idea what caused the fire and we're leaving it to the experts to find out."
He said the fire spread swiftly. There was no defective wiring or heating in the area and "every fire of this sort has to be investigated for the possibility of arson," he added.
R. Bruce Livie, chairman of the Maryland Racing Commission, said "I have never seen a fire go through a barn so quickly, nor have seen one so completely gutted in such a short time."
It was the worst track fire in Maryland history from the standpoint of horses lost. Twenty-one thoroughbreds died in a $100,000 stable fire at Bowie race track in 1946, and 12 died in a barn fire adjacent to Bowie last January.
The thoroughbreds lost at Laurel were valued at an estimated $225,000 and barn No. 21, a 35-year-old wooden structure, was valued at $60,000.
The trainer hardest hit was GROVER G. (BUDDY)
DELP of Churchville, Md., who last all but two of his 31-horse string. He said arson or a carelessly
tossed cigarette might have been responsible for the fire.
A similar view was expressed by trainer JAMES TOWAN of Annapolis, who lost two of five horses.
Other trainers with horses in the destroyed barn were W. W. WATERS and LESLIE GLAZIER.
One stablehand was slightly injured in the fire. JOHN THOMPSON, a groom from Detroit, cut his hand trying to rescue a horse and was admitted to Prince Georges Hospital in Cheverly, Md.
The straw-fed fire quickly burned out of control after a stablehand first saw a red glow about 9:30 p.m.
"I was listening to the election results on my radio when I saw this big puff of flame in the feed room,"
said TOM QUEEN, a groom from Washington, D.C.
"In a couple of minutes, the barn was burning from end to end. Everybody tried but we didn't have a chance."
"Some fellows put coats and blankets over their heards and tried to get to the horses. But the flames were too hot."
Schapiro said he had asked R. Bruce Livie, chairman of the Maryland Racing Commission, to meet with him George H. Martin, Jr., general manager of the track, and Anne Arundel police and fire officials.
Charleston Gazette West Virginia 1964-11-05