GOSHEN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Good Samaritans helped move horses to safety after a fire broke out at a historic race track in Orange County.
The fire began after 6 p.m. Wednesday at a barn at the Goshen Historic Track, a registered historic landmark, and quickly spread.
“Flames were coming out all over the place,” horse trainer Ian Kaufman told CBS2’s Janelle Burrell. “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”
Kaufman said there were just seconds to react to get one horse, named Caviar Hall, out.
“Caviar Hall was in a burning stall after the fire erupted and it was thanks to one of the horse trainers that he was able to make it out safely,” he said. “The whole stall was full of flames and the horse wasn’t moving. I was yelling at the guy, ‘please kick him — get him out of the stall.”
Caviar Hall and the other 30-plus horses that were in adjoining stables made it out safely with the help of track workers and community members who spotted the massive flames coming from the barn just off Main Street and dropped what they were doing to pitch in.
“The restaurant emptied out, people were moving horses,” said track manager Tim Masters.
Charles Peralo was driving by the track when he saw the flames and raced over to help.
“The horses were absolutely freaking out,” he said. “A bunch of people just started rushing over and we just started grabbing the horses, we didn’t even have the rope to do it.”
Peralo says the animals were shaken.
“The horses were in a lot of panic when we got here,” he said. “There were a couple of other people who walked by, one of them actually broke their nose and got their lip cut open, the horse went and kicked them.”
One spooked horse made a run for it and was seen galloping away before eventually being rescued.
It took firefighters three hours to get the flames under control. With the animals and everyone safe, village members, many who have come for races all their lives, watched as the barn burned.
“Devastating,” said Goshen resident Sheila Almond. Flames were shooting across 40, 50 feet.”
“An utter disaster,” said Masters. “It was incredible.”
With the cleanup of the historic stables now underway, there are many heavy hearts but also a sense of gratefulness that all lives — horse and human —were spared.
“That’s what counts,” Kaufman said.
Crews were able salvage some mementos. Once it’s is all cleaned up, the manager says they will rebuild to board horses and to pay tribute to the history.
The historic track is the oldest active trotting track in the world.
The cause of the fire is under investigation, but the track manager says it appears to be electric.