Police: At least 24 horses die in Mt. Hope barn fire

Posted: Updated:
MOUNT HOPE -

A fire at an equestrian facility Saturday morning in Orange County killed at least two dozen horses.

Police say at least 24 horses were trapped inside a barn that had caught fire at Mount Hope Training Center in Otisville.

The center – a 63-acre facility off Guymard Turnpike, houses seven different barns, according to it’s website.

CHOPPER VIDEO: Aftermath of barn fire in Mount Hope

Saturday's fire, destroyed one of those barns – the same where embattled trainer Dean Eckley reportedly kept horses. Eckley was arrested years ago for animal cruelty. His license also once suspended after his horses tested positive for drugs.

The Orange County Sherriff’s Office told News 12 that no one appeared to be in the barn when the blaze erupted around 3 a.m. Police are considering lightning as a possible cause.

Harness Racing Museum Director Janet Terhune says the death of any horse, let alone several dozen, is a calamity few can comprehend.

“Every time there's news of a barn fire, there's a sickening feeling in the pit of your stomach that horses suffered and died,” said Terhune. “It really it a heart wrenching and sickening feeling.”

State police, the state Fire Investigation Team and the Orange County Sheriff's Office are investigating the incident.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the trainers affected by the incident.

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