Bartow County’s fire marshal says he believes a fire that killed 19 show horses and caused millions in damages Oct. 26 was accidental.

Fire Marshal Gary Garland said he has completed his investigation of the incident at 11 Secretariat Road in western Bartow County.

“My investigation did not result in any evidence that led me to believe the fire was intentionally set,” he said.

“At this time the scene has been turned over to the owners and any investigation is in the hands of the various insurance companies,” Garland said.

He said the fire began at the south end of the 10,000-square-foot barn. A pile of wood chips used for bedding was stored in a shed in the area where the fire began but Garland said he had no definite evidence it started there.

“My investigation led me to believe that the fire did start on that end of the structure and could have started in the wood chips,” he said.

Bartow fire officials have estimated owners suffered a $3 million loss in the fire in which 19 performance paint quarter horses died, said Battalion Chief Sandy Turner of the Bartow County Fire Department.

Owner Blake Carney was out of town during the incident, a TV news station reported.

Carney, a horse trainer who operated Carney Performance Horses at the site of the fire, said he was not prepared to speak about the incident — though he confirmed that animals lost in the blaze were owned by others.

He reportedly also was a victim after the apartment he resided in within the barn was destroyed with most of his personal belongings, including clothing and equipment essential to running a horse business.

Turner said six engines and three other vehicles responded Oct. 26 at 6:23 a.m. to the the fire off Alford Road near the Floyd County line.

Firefighters arrived on the scene to find the building fully involved with flames, he said. They worked until about 2:15 p.m. that day to extinguish the blaze, Turner said.

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