Deadly Fire Hits Lexington’s Mercury Equine Center

by | 12.18.2016 | 9:40am
Lexington fire fighters battle blaze at Mercury Equine Center (photo from WLEX video)

An overnight fire that destroyed one of three training barns at Mercury Equine Center on Russell Cave Pike near Lexington, Ky., on Sunday morning has killed 23 Thoroughbreds, according to various media reports.

Operated by Eric and Kay Reed, Mercury Equine Center is a 60-acre facility with a five-eighths-mile training track and three wooden barns totaling 160 stalls. The facility is used to prepare horses for racing, sale or provide rehabilitation services. The facility is on the site of the original Spendthrift Farm training center.

Eric Reed told he and a half dozen employees pulled a number of horses out of the barn and into a nearby paddock. Most of the horses that perished were yearlings, he said.

“They were heroes, the people who work for me,” Reed told “They went above and beyond what I could even imagine anybody trying to do. We ran into the barn, the smoke was so black we couldn't even see. The only thing you could see was the flames.”

Weather conditions saw temperatures plunge overnight, from 60 degrees to below freezing in a matter of hours. Heavy rain and windy conditions were accompanied by a rare December lightning storm, which officials said may have been the cause of the inferno.

Reed told the response time by fire fighters was “unacceptable” and that more horses could have been saved had they arrived sooner. “There's a fire station five minutes down the road but it took 39 minutes before they could get there to help us,” he said. “I'll never get this nightmare out of my mind.”


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