Five racehorses killed in stable fire

Five harness racehorses were killed and several others were burned during a stable fire in Australia on Tuesday.

The blaze at Leeton Racecourse in New South Wales destroyed a block of 16 stables. When firefighters arrived at about 4 a.m. local time, a portion of the stables was already fully engulfed. Responders fought the fire while also trying to rescue frantic standardbred horses.

"The radiant heat had just set their rugs alight and their tails alight, and we were trying to extinguish them while we were getting them out," Captain Graham Parks told the Australian Associated Press (AAP).

"The horses were that stressed and stirred up they were knocking firemen over. It was just chaos."

The cause of the fire is unknown, but investigators are treating it as suspicious, the AAP reported. The stables were built from red gum hardwood.

Trainer Phil Maguire had three horses killed in the blaze: 5-year-old champion gelding Garry Kelly, Centaury and Provence. Trainer John Kefford lost two horses: Candys Art and Captain Stapleton.

Three surviving horses suffered burns, and another was treated for smoke inhalation. Veterinarian Brian Munro told AAP it is probable the injured horses would be able to run again.

"Standardbreds are remarkably stoic," he said. "If it were thoroughbreds, it might be a different story."

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