A fire at the Tioga Downs racetrack and casino killed at least 24 horses and injured a person trying to save them. According to New York State Police, the fire was deliberately set as an act of arson.
The fire started in one of the facility’s horse barns at around 6:30 a.m. Thursday, according to Tioga County Emergency Services. Over 24 horses died in the blaze, and an unnamed person who attempted to rescue them suffered second-degree burns, state police reported.
A 32-year-old man from Athens, Pennsylvania, named Boyd Fenton, is accused of entering the barn and intentionally starting the fire.
Mr. Fenton has been arrested and charged with three “Class D” felony charges for third-degree burglary, second-degree criminal mischief, and second-degree assault, each carrying a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.
In addition to the previous charges, Mr. Fenton has also been charged with the “Class C” felony of third-degree arson, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
Jeff Gural, the owner of Tioga Downs and Chairman of American Racing & Entertainment, expressed his sadness over the fire in a Facebook post.
“We are deeply saddened by today’s tragedy. It was a loss no one could have imagined or expected. It is an active investigation, so we are not able to comment any further at this time. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to all the first responders who rushed to our aid,” Gural wrote.
The horses that perished were at Tioga Downs for winter training but were owned by various other parties, Jason Settlemoir, general manager of the Meadowlands Racetrack also operated by Mr. Gural, told the local Press & Sun-Bulletin newspaper.