Horse News

Update: Fire that Killed 30 Horses on Interstate 81 Like a ‘Horror Movie,’ Witness Says

Source: By Douglass Dowty | as published in

“You see a bunch of dead horses in one trailer…”

Lisle, NY — The remains of 30 dead horses after a truck fire Monday night near Binghamton looked like a scene from a horror movie, one witness said.

The blackened animals were killed during a massive fire sparked by a leak in a 130-gallon fuel tank, state police said.

Chris Chordas, owner of John’s Body Shop in Binghamton, and his crew worked 7 1/2 hours overnight to remove the horse carcasses from the trailer, before hauling away the 53-foot trailer from northbound Interstate 81 near the Cortland-Broome county line.

Since then, he’s taken three showers to rid himself of the smell from the burned horses. Eventually, he put shampoo up his nose “just to have a decent smell again.”

“It’s more like a horror movie, you come up on something like that,” he said. “You see a bunch of dead horses in one trailer…”

The chief of the Marathon Fire Department agreed. “We’ve never dealt with any animal trailer, whether it be beef or pigs,” said Chief Dustin Contri. When firefighters arrived, flames had fully engulfed the truck. The horses were already dead once the fire was extinguished 10 minutes later.

The horses were being transported from Shippensburg, Pa. to be slaughtered at a plant in Massueville, Quebec, said state police Capt. Eric Janis. He wasn’t sure where the horse meat would end up after slaughter.

These plants take horses that owners either can’t or don’t want to care for anymore. The truck’s driver, Clarence Phelps, of Watertown, told Contri that’s how these horses ended up headed to the plant.

This is the scene that confronted Chris Chordas when he arrived at a horse trailer fire Monday night near Binghamton. He called it like a horror movie. Photo by Chris Chordas

This is the scene that confronted Chris Chordas when he arrived at a horse trailer fire Monday night near Binghamton. He called it like a horror movie. Photo by Chris Chordas

The horse plant in Massueville has been the target of animal rights protests. The New York Times in 2009 published two commentaries arguing for and against horse slaughtering. Proponents say old or injured horses can be an expensive burden for owners, while critics say horses are not supposed to end up in the food chain.

Roughly 35 firefighters from Marathon and Killawog fought the blaze with two fire engines and two tanker trucks. Whitney Point firefighters helped block off the highway.

Contri said the fire was caused by a leak in a passenger-side, 130-gallon fuel tank, which leaked for half a mile on the highway before igniting. The diesel fuel sprayed the tires of the horse trailer, causing that to catch fire…(CONTINUED)

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32 replies »

  1. I hope he can never get the smell out of his nasal passage, I hope this haunts him until he wakes up and sees what a disgusting business he is in, may he have nightmares TOO


    • Jeannie, this person was trying to help remove the horses, he was actually from the bodyshop that worked for 7 1/2 hours to remove the dead ones. Please read carefully before posting comments.


      • Since when do body shops handle carcass removal? The body shop should require the owner/driver to pick up the remains

        Are the names of the 30 horses, previous owners, and amount of the sale public record?

        Memorial for the 30

        Atonement for the sellers


      • The body shop might’ve had some lifting type of equipment. I don’t know. Just sayin’ since I’ve seen other sites where they’ve given instructions on how to use a forklift or something to raise an injured horse securely. I know there’s no survivors here but I’m just thinking that some equipment might’ve been utilized. It might be here or the actual article where I think I read the town hadn’t even dealt with a situation such as this. So who ever stepped up to help – kudos to them.


  2. I can’t even imagine what the screaming must have been like…anyone who at least has half a heart would see the horror these poor animals must have felt.


  3. Jeannie, I believe that you’re commenting on the quote by the body shop owner who was tasked to remove the carcasses from the truck. Actually, it’s the truck driver and the kill buyer who I hope have a horribly hot location in eternity.


    • I wonder if the trailer was overloaded. They also run trucks with faulty tires and avoid weigh stations. Its funny how the police exonerated them immediately without any investigation.


      • There’s no excuse the horses could not have been released from the burning trailer. I had a car burn to a crisp on the PA turnpike, however I had time while it was burning to reach in and pull out my personal belongings such as my briefcase, blazer laying accross the backseat and my CD’s all awhile the car was burning. Bruce Rotz’s moral compass is weak and dark. The police might have exonerated him but what about federal law? Where’s PETA and the USHS? They should go after him with everything they can! All they had to do was open the trailer gates and the frightened horses would have exited on their own without a doubt.


      • There’s a reason judges make people stand on the street corner with a sign around their neck

        Shame is quite an effective tool for the irresponsible

        30 + / – for the sellers who probably have another one they’re trying to run on the track
        1 for the alleged broker who sold to rotten-to-the-core KB
        1 for the KB who continues to profit from the horrendous cruelty of horse slaughter
        1 for a driver who wouldn’t even open a door

        They should all have to stand out on I 81 with a sign around their neck

        33 signs please


      • One thing I see many communities not wanting is to have to stretch their over burdened and smaller budgets to respond to what many feel are national and not actually local problems. No one wants the bad publicity. It is part of the damage done this nation by the corporate banking crash and the lack of responsible press and politicians.

        No excuses, this was avoidable.


  4. I’m not sure what makes me sicker – the fact that 30 horses burned to death, or the smart ass comments people are making on the article page. Another day of being ashamed to be human!


  5. Why do these things happen. Look at the awful messes humans create. Doesn’t anyone inspect vehicles anymore? We don’t bother to inspect fertilizer plants, limousines, foreign sweatshop factories, or conditions of animals in captivity. We suck!


    • Dear Robyn , My heart also hurts !!!!and I am also so sad for those Horses, whenever I am with them I am so Happy, I dont own any now, but have friends who have them , and I am honored to be with them whenever I can , they know who i am and always ,I come away with more then I ever could give to them………………………


      • Hi Arlene,

        How Wonderful isn’t it being around them!!
        Horses have so much to teach us and give us… I cannot stand how many people are
        EVIL and PERVERSE treat them like a commodity that should be slaughtered to EAT!!!!

        I do own them, love them dearly and make all sorts of sacrifices to have for one the 2hrs a a day on the road in traffic during work week……But when I am home I am thrilled to be in their existence…to be on the back of my horse is a HAPPY PILL beyond anything…..

        I totally get what your saying for those of us that get it and know it!!..The connection is incredible..

        This story here is most TRAGIC!!


      • Dear Robyn, i know that everyone of us here, has be so saddened by this avoidable tragic incident, these imbecilic morons have to be stopped and Justice must be served !!!!!! I keep thinking how could he stand there and let them burn, OMG it makes me just want to arrest him myself…….. I know of the Pleasure and happiness that each horse in his own way gives to those that can feel it !!!!! I envy you to have them near you most of the time !!!!!!! What a Lucky Lady you are , thank you for those sacrifices , I know you know they are so worth it !!!!!!


  6. I am so sick of killer buyer’s and transporting our horses to slaughter…. Chances are these were race horses..
    We need that SAFE Act bill passed!!!!


  7. And now I just saw a story on MSNnews about a massive horse burial site found in Wisconsin on the property of a person who has faced abusive charges against horses in the past. The story says the uncovering of the horse bodies is still in process and they aren’t sure how many bodies they will find. The sick individuals just continue to come out.


  8. What makes me sick and totally disgusted is the fact that the driver did not open the trailer to let those horses out. What was he thinking, the monster that he is? I hope he burns in hell for all eternity where there will be no relief in sight for ever and ever. His screams will not be heard. They will be silenced by the other screams of those who commit such horrific crimes against innocent animals. We live in an evil world without compassion or any sense of decency. This is the worst crime ever and it will go unpunished because after all they were “only just horses!!” I can go on and on but it will do not good. Evil is spreading like a bad virus and infecting the entire planet. I cannot get over this. It is too much to bear.


  9. Instead KB gets to collect the insurance claim for the damaged vehicles and will carry on just as before. I really wish he would have been required to go to the scene and remove the bodies of HIS horses. Maybe it would have had an impact on him….maybe it wouldn’t have.


  10. I live in PA and have noticed many trailers originating in PA carrying Maine license plates. It seems that you can get a post office box # and license your PA trailer in Maine circumventing inspections.


  11. Utter sadness/blatant abuse! Stark contrast to their appeal to offer help with animal welfare. Funny they mention how they were just helping people out in such a supposedly kind way. Slaughter is a diabolibal engine that steams down the track yelling we are helping. Whats amazing is these welfare oriented types never attempt to help the animals. Not even to open a latch. You know from the picture, they were jammed together which is absolutely a crime, but good ole boy syndrome struck the cops who dont deal with shady kill buyers daily. If this reopens this picture will be commonplace! Illinois can verify that time and again.


  12. Ok maybe this is a dumb question, but from the photos I have seen it looks like the fire did not destroy the actual truck? Also from the photo in this article it looks like the horses are all piled up towards the front of the trailer, where the fire was the worst? Were there really only 31 horses in that trailer? Would the horses not flee to the back of the trailer? I may be all wet but something does not add up from the photos I have seen?


  13. The chief of the Marathon Fire Department agreed. “We’ve never dealt with any animal trailer, whether it be beef or pigs,” said Chief Dustin Contri. When firefighters arrived, flames had fully engulfed the truck. The horses were already dead once the fire was extinguished 10 minutes later.


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