Cause of barn fire that killed 18 horses under investigation

PLAINFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Eighteen horses died and two people were injured in a Wednesday morning fire at a barn in the southwest Chicago suburb of Plainfield, fire officials said.

Firefighters arrived at Del Real Stables about 1:15 a.m. Wednesday to find the west side of the barn in flames and a nearby trailer on fire, Plainfield Deputy Fire Chief Jon Stratton said. Both people who were hurt were taken to area hospitals for treatment of minor injuries, authorities said.

The fire spread before firefighters were able to get it under control a half-hour later, Stratton said. Firefighters from eight other departments assisted, said Mary Kay Ludemann, fire marshal for the Plainfield Fire Protection District. She said the barn is a "total loss." The cause of the blaze is under investigation, police said.

The barn boarded horses and about 30 were in the structure when the fire started, Stratton said. A dozen horses survived because owners and firefighters were able to let them out, he said.

A veterinarian was treating the surviving horses, Plainfield Fire Chief David Riddle said.

"These are pets that are part of people's families," Riddle said. "It's hard to imagine the suffering of the animals."

Plainfield is about 40 miles from downtown Chicago.