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16 horses die in barn fire at Sunnybrook Stables

Last Updated May 22, 2018 at 9:35 am EDT

Sixteen horses died in a massive fire at Sunnybrook Stables early Monday morning.

The fire broke out in two barns, engulfing one fully around 3:10 a.m.

Police officers were able to get some horses safely out of the barn that was not engulfed. Thirteen horses survived and were moved to the stables at Canadian National Exhibition and are being taken care of.

Police haven’t ruled out a suspicious act since the cause of fire hasn’t been determined.

Fire officials say they are investigating reports that there were fireworks in the area overnight. The Office of the Fire Marshall and Toronto police are taking that into consideration in the investigation.

Firefighters were still dousing hotspots in the afternoon.

The stable area of the park, located in Sunnybrook Park near Leslie Street and Lawrence Avenue, is closed for the investigation.

Horse trainer Autumn Blanchard, 20, estimates 10 of her horses died in the fire.

“It’s really rough, it’s terrible. A couple of horses I actually trained myself and I’ve known them for a long time. It’s really hard hearing that kind of news this morning. Anyway, we just want to go have a look and see if we can take some home and bury them on our property,” Blanchard said.

Riders like Richard Sutton, 14, are heartbroken over the ones that didn’t make it. He’s been riding at Sunnybrook Stables since he was nine-years-old and got to know many of the horses in main barn.

“My friends who I ride with were all calling me and we were all … grieving over our favourite horses,” Sutton explained.

Some of the horses believed to have perished are Blossom, Phoenix, Dante and Carter.

Taylor Potts worked at the barns last year, tweeting that the horses were “wonderful” and “the main barn in particular was home to beginner-level horses – very sweet, quiet rides.”

She says the horses of the main barn were Mr T, Beau, Misty, Sugar, Gifford, Marty, Tess, Sampson, Hercules, Axel and Poomba, adding that Gifford was a “little mini horse the mascot of Sunnybrook.”

When asked late Monday afternoon, Toronto Fire could not confirm which horses died.

Mayor John Tory said he had fond memories of coming to visit horses at the same stables.

“People love animals, and they’re animals you don’t see all the time when you live in the big city,” said Tory. “Somebody owned those horses and was very close to them, it’s a tragedy when you lose animals like this.”

He also thanked fire officials and police officers for their help with the fire. He also asked for those with information on the cause to call police.

Toronto Fire originally received a phone call from someone in a nearby apartment building, notifying them of the fire.