Suspect Charged in Tioga Downs Casino Arson Fire Resulting in 30 Horse Deaths

Man Arrested After Setting Fire to Tioga Downs Casino Resort Barn, Killing 30 Horses

On Thursday, November 14, 2023, a man was taken into custody for allegedly setting a fire in the barn at Tioga Downs Casino Resort in New York. The blaze resulted in the tragic death of 30 horses and injured one person. The suspect, identified as 32-year-old Boyd H. Fenton of Athens, Pa., has been charged with third-degree arson, third-degree burglary, second-degree criminal mischief, and second-degree assault.

The fire broke out early Thursday, causing the horses to kick and scream in distress as the flames rapidly spread throughout the barn. The New York Times reported that Edgar Clarke, a 68-year-old horse trainer, attempted to extinguish the fire with a fire extinguisher but was unsuccessful due to the extensive nature of the blaze. Clarke suffered second-degree burns on his face and was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.

Kayla Morris, who either trained or owned 12 of the horses that perished in the fire, described the harrowing experience of watching the barn burn and hoping in vain for one of the horses to escape. One of the horses that died in the blaze was Better Call Saul, an 11-year-old with an impressive racing career.

Jeff Gural, the owner of Tioga Downs, expressed deep sadness over the tragic incident and commended the efforts of the first responders. A fundraising campaign was initiated to assist the horsemen affected by the fire, with contributions exceeding the initial goal of $50,000. Gural also pledged to match donations up to $100,000.

The New York State Police revealed that the fire was intentionally set, causing significant damage. In response, multiple fire departments from both New York and Pennsylvania rushed to the complex to battle the fire.

The Tioga Downs Casino Resort, which offers casino gaming and harness racing, is located near the border with Pennsylvania. The facility, owned by American Racing & Entertainment, is now grappling with the devastating loss of the horses and the extensive damage caused by the fire.

The incident also incited public outrage, leading to a surge in donations to support the affected horsemen. Despite the heartbreaking loss, the community has come together to provide aid and comfort during this difficult time.