For the owners of 30 horses that were killed last week when an arsonist set fire to a stable at a New York state racetrack, there are only mysteries and grief.
Police have arrested Boyd H. Fenton, 32, of Athens, Pennsylvania, on charges of arson, burglary, criminal mischief, and assault, according to The New York Times.
But as Fenton lingers in the Tioga County Correctional Facility, a motive for the blaze that ripped through the stable early Thursday is not known.
“It’s soul-destroying,” Kayla Morris, who along with her husband Lee lost 12 horses in the blaze, said. “It’s taken everything from us.”
The fire at the track in Nichols, just across the state line from Pennsylvania, was raging when Edgar Clarke and his wife, Cheri, arrived at about 6:15 a.m. on Thursday.
“Those horses meant everything to us,” said Edgar Clarke, a Standardbred horse trainer.
They tried to save the animals.
Edgar Clarke, 68, tried to use a fire extinguisher to cut a path into the barn where the horses died.
“I couldn’t get in the barn. It was totally engulfed,” he said. His efforts resulted in second-degree burns on his face.
Cheri Clarke tried another entrance, with no success.
“We took one step in and had to go back out again, and we couldn’t — I heard them screaming. I heard the horses kicking and screaming,” she said. “We couldn’t do anything to help them.”
“How can I go from having a barn full of horses one minute to not even having a snap the next minute.” – Cheri Clarke, who lost 6 horses in the Tioga Downs fire.
— Jessica Hallett (@JHallettPhoto) November 12, 2023
Kayla Morris rushed to the barn in pajamas when she heard about the fire.
“I tried to get in the barn, but I just couldn’t because the fire was just so hot, and I just screamed and screamed,” she said.
“I sat for four hours and watched it burn and just hoped — hoped — that one of them would come out,” she said.
Edgar Clarke said he was left bereft.
“The last few days are the first time in my entire life I’ve not had a horse,” he said, adding that he has not been back to Tioga Downs — one of seven harness racing tracks in the state — since the fire.
“I don’t want to see what happened,” he said.
Kayla Morris recalled one horse called Better Call Saul, who was 11.
“He was the absolute love of my life,” she said, according to HarnessLink. “He was cheeky, funny, and always hungry. He just wanted to be loved.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.