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44 horses dead, one person injured in massive Ohio barn fire


(BELLE CENTER, Ohio) — Some 44 horses were killed and one person seriously injured when a fire engulfed a horse barn Saturday in Logan County, Ohio.

Brant Performance Horses near Belle Center, Ohio, about an hour northwest of Columbus, used a barn that measured about 60,0000 square feet and stabled about 85 horses. It also featured a performing area for the horses and a living space for employees.

Firefighters from Logan, Hardin and Union counties worked together to extinguish the barn fire, according to Jason Johns, assistant fire chief of the Richland Township Fire Department.

The fire was first noticed around noon Saturday by a Brant Performance Horses employee, according to Cathy Brant of Brant Performance Horses.

“An employee was in the barn, saw smoke and yelled fire,” Brant told ABC News. She said an explosion occurred only seconds later and generated a larger fire.

Eric Priest, owner of Priest Performances Horses in Belle Center, who kept some of his horses at the barn, ran inside to attempt to free the horses and was caught in the explosion. He sustained second- and third-degree burns to his arms, back and head, according to Brant, and faces possible surgery.

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Firefighters were at the scene for about 12 hours on Saturday. “Slowly but surely we were getting the fire to calm down,” Johns told ABC News. “The building was already starting to collapse and it wasn’t safe to enter.”

Four employees lived in the building and lost everything, Brant said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

A GoFundMe page created for the owners of Brant Performance Horses had raised just over $235,000 as of Monday afternoon, while two GoFundMe pages created for the owners of Priest Performance Horses had together raised nearly $40,000 by Monday afternoon.

“The amount of the support is incredible,” said Brant, who added that the money will be used to rebuild the property. In the meantime, the business will operate out of another barn 40 minutes north, she said.

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