• Kyodo

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Nine racehorses were killed in a fire that gutted two stables early Sunday at the Funabashi Racetrack in Chiba Prefecture, police said.

The fire broke out at around 1 a.m. at a stable owned by trainer Hajime Oikawa, 44, and spread to an adjacent stable owned by trainer Akio Kawamura, 69.

It was brought under control after about three hours, but both two-story wooden stables were destroyed. No one was reported injured.

The nine horses, ranging in age from 2 to 5 years old, were all in Oikawa’s stable, police said.

Four horses in Kawamura’s stable were unharmed.

Police opened an investigation into the cause of the fire.

According to Chiba’s horse racing association, there are 78 stables in and around Funabashi Racetrack housing some 600 racehorses.

Damage from the fire was estimated at tens of millions of yen.

“When I rushed to the burning stables just after the fire broke out, the flames were already out of control,” a keeper from a nearby stable said.

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