Bartow fire officials estimate a $3 million loss after a fire destroyed a barn housing 19 show horses Saturday.

County fire department investigators were working to find more information about the blaze in which the 19 performance paint quarter horses died Saturday morning, said Battalion Chief Sandy Turner of the Bartow County Fire Department.

“They were very valuable horses,” Turner said.

Investigators reported a preliminary, estimated total loss of $3 million for the animals and 10,000-square-foot barn, he said.

Turner said six engines and three other vehicles responded Saturday at 6:23 a.m. to the report of the fire at 11 Secretariat Road off Alford Road in western Bartow County 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.

Officials reported the fire started near a pile of chips used for bedding, but the cause of the fire was still under investigation, WGCL-TV reported.

Stable owner Blake Carney was out of town during the incident, the station reported.

Carney, who operates Carney Performance Horses at the site of the fire, said today he was not prepared to speak about the incident — though he confirmed that horses lost in the fire were owned by others.

He reportedly also was a victim after the apartment he resided in within the barn was destroyed.

Georgia Department of Agriculture officials responded to the scene but were not part of the investigation, a spokesman said. Their only role was to make sure the animals were properly buried, he said.

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