MANALAPAN, N.J. -- A banned electric water heater is being blamed for starting a barn fire that killed 20 horses, including world record-holder Cam Knows Best, the runner-up in the 1998 Little Brown Jug.
The fast-moving fire at Gaitway Farm is being investigated as a likely accident, and no criminal charges were expected.
Portable electric water heaters, used to prepare hot mash to feed horses, have been prohibited at Gaitway since one caused a minor fire three years ago, farm manager Timothy Hundertpfund said Friday.
"It's not permitted on the farm, but it's impossible to police everything," he said. "They must have left it in a bucket of water. The water evaporated, and the rest is history."
He stood next to the charred posts of Barn No. 5 as a front-end loader scooped carcasses from the mud and ash into a truck for disposal.
One horse was rescued from the fire at the 14-barn farm in central New Jersey, where hundreds of standardbreds train for races.
The Monmouth County prosecutor's office is attempting to contact the last person known to have been in the barn before the fire broke out late Thursday.
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