Alabama Barn Fire Kills 10 Racehorses

May 23--HARTSELLE --Four horses were preparing to race in Ohio and three were nursing babies when a barn fire here claimed all 10 early Saturday. Skip Drinkard, owner of Drinkard Stables on Indian Hills Road Northeast, said the fire singed his hair...


May 23--HARTSELLE --Four horses were preparing to race in Ohio and three were nursing babies when a barn fire here claimed all 10 early Saturday.

Skip Drinkard, owner of Drinkard Stables on Indian Hills Road Northeast, said the fire singed his hair as he tried to rescue the horses.

He heard the fire before he saw it.

"It was shortly before 7 a.m. I heard one pop, and I thought my grandson was shooting at a coyote," Drinkard said. "I heard a second one that sounded like an explosion. I got in my truck to go see, and as I backed out of my driveway, I could see flames coming out of both sides and the top of the barn. The rollup door had fallen halfway down, and when I tried to get to it, the fire was so hot it singed my hair."

'Never had a chance'

Drinkard explained that four horses were being fed and prepped for racing next month and the three nursing mares and their young shared the barn with them.

"These babies were only 6 weeks old, and we had bred and got just what we wanted," said Drinkard.

"They never had a chance. It's just heartbreaking."

Drinkard says he has about 20 horses left that roam the field, and they are fine.

Flint Volunteer firefighters with assistance from fire departments from Priceville and Hartselle battled the flames for two hours beginning shortly after 7 a.m., according to Flint Assistant Fire Chief David Brock.

"When we got there, it was fully involved and there was nothing anybody could do," said Brock.

The barn is in the middle of a field and is not close to the owner's home, Brock said. No one in the home was injured.

Brock said they suspect an electrical malfunction started the fire, but an investigation will be done to determine cause.

Drinkard said he doesn't believe there was an electrical problem.

"We don't think it was a wire because no switches were on," said Drinkard.

Worth rebuilding?

The barn was a total loss, and Drinkard, who has owned the stables since 1985, is uncertain about rebuilding.

"I have insurance but not nearly enough to replace what I had," he said. "I don't know at this time whether I'll rebuild. When you breed horses a long time they become like family. Sometimes life throws you a curve ball."