Barn Fire Kills 38 Horses; Injures Employee

Farm building owned by Jerry Campbell, founder of now-defunct Pinnacle Race Course.

A Southern Michigan barn fire at the farm of longtime Thoroughbred owner/breeder Jerry Campbell’s Campbell Stables on the night of Feb. 21 has resulted in the death of 38 horses and the injury of an employee.

Firefighters in Jackson County’s Grass Lake Township were called to the scene around 10:30 p.m. by a neighbor, David Watson. Fire chief Greg Jones said the reason behind the fire is yet to be determined. 

“Right now, we are doing an investigation,” he said. “We’re not sure about the cause. If there were any electrical problems beforehand, we didn’t know about it.”

The fire chief added that it took 25-30 firefighters around three hours to get the blaze under control.

He expects the investigation to last about a week. “As soon as the insurance company gets involved, they’ll send their people out,” he explained.

According to the Jackson Citizen Patriot, the fire wasn’t considered suspicious. There were two other barns on the property that were undamaged, as well as the Campbell’s home, which is located to the south of the burned barn.

Jones confirmed that one Campbell Stables employee was taken to an Ann Arbor hospital with burns to his hands and legs. His current condition is unknown.

Jerry Campbell, who operates the farm with his wife, Lisa, founded Pinnacle Race Course in the suburbs of Detroit in 2008. The track closed its doors and surrendered its license in May 2011, however, due to various financial constraints in the midst of the economic downturn.

Among the horses raced by Jerry and Lisa Campbell are stakes winners Crash Pad, Diamond Gate, Mont Ridge, Post It, Proud Ridge, Sea Legs, Terko Bates, Axe of Courage, I Match Too, This Cats on Fire, Wave Pool, Charlies Fire, and Valley Loot. The latter, a daughter of Demaloot Demashoot, was named Michigan’s Horse of the Year and top 3-year-old filly in 2007.