Stable Fire Near Louisiana Downs

An estimated 17 to 20 horses died in a barn fire at a training center adjacent to Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, La., on Thursday night, confirmed Dwight Viator, who lost five horses in the fire, including four-time stakes winner Look At the Time.

Viator said he was one of four trainers who had horses stabled in the barn, which he described as the first barn upon entering the River Point training center from the Louisiana Downs side. Viator also has a division of horses at Louisiana Downs. He said the fire broke out at about 6 p.m. Central.

“The barn burned down to the ground,” he said. “A fire started in one of the living rooms, the only room that somebody was living in, and I don’t know, it just went in flames.

“I got at call at 6 p.m., was here in five, 10 minutes, and it was gone.”

Viator said he was told one horse broke through the tie chains on the front of his stall and managed to escape the fire. He said it is the first time he has lost horses in a barn fire. Viator began training in the 1970s.

“What really hurts me, it’s the way the horses die,” he said. “The way those that don’t get out suffer. These horses are like my kids, and the way they died, that’s just not fair.”

In addition to Look At the Time, Viator said the fire also claimed a handful of runners who had won their last starts at Louisiana Downs. Look At the Time, who earlier in the Louisiana Downs meet captured the John Franks Memorial, was a winner of 5 of 11 starts and $266,870 for Hooties Racing.

From KSLA News:

Horse owners mourn loss of race horses in stable fire

Posted: Aug 01, 2013 11:22 PM CDTUpdated: Aug 02, 2013 9:08 AM CDT

By Victoria Shirley – email


 A barn went up in flames this Thursday evening behind Louisiana Downs in Haughton. According to the horse owners, at least 20 race horses did not make it out of that barn alive. One horse was saved.  The horse owners and workers who took care of the horses are heartbroken over the loss of the animals.
Jean Vezinat takes care of horses at Wrap Around farms. When he saw one of the barns on fire, he only thought one thing: save the horses. “The horses were trying to get out, banging against the door,” said Vezinat.
He managed to get one horse out, before the heat became too much. “Got in about five feet, that was it and I couldn’t breathe.”
Police say at least 20 horses are unaccounted for.  Horse owners too emotional to speak on camera, say the animals were race horses and believe all, but the one Vezinat saved, are dead. “I tried but I couldn’t get in!” 
Like Vezinat, Mario Moreno was also trying to save the horses, while another worker called 911. “I ran to the backside to try to get to the other horses, but by then I see the big ball of fire and the black smoke, so I couldn’t go inside. I couldn’t breath,” said Moreno.
Sgt. Dave Faulk of the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office says they got a call around 5:53 p.m. that the barn was on fire. Several Bossier Fire Departments spent hours trying to put out the fire.

Life Air rescue delivered supplies for the firefighters as they continued to battle the blaze in the heat.

After years of caring for the horses, Moreno watched the scene in disbelief, feeling upset.  “I’m very emotional. I’m very sad, very sad, for me the horses are like children.”
Sgt. Faulk said as of 10:00 p.m. Thursday night, heavy equipment is headed was headed to the scene to move some of the debris, so firefighters can get to the hottest parts.
Once the scene cools down fire investigators will be able to determine a cause for this fire.