Friday, January 31, 2014

Bowie Race Track Ravaged by Blizzard and Fire

January 31, 1966 (48 years ago today): An early morning fire at the Bowie Race Track destroyed five barns and resulted in the deaths of more than 40 horses.

The track had been closed as the region took shelter from an intense storm that would later be known as the Blizzard of '66.  Wind gusts in excess of 50 miles per hour fanned the flames, and caused the fire to spread quickly.

Firefighters took more than 30 minutes to navigate the snow covered roads along the way to the track.  According to Robert Nelson of the Bowie Volunteer Fire Department, crews from the station had to push a stranded car from the roadway and shovel their way through three separate snow drifts in order to get their apparatus to the track.

Arriving personnel found a chaotic scene.  Flames were shooting high into the air, and panicked horses and ice made for a hazardous situation.

Approximately 100 horses were let loose in an effort to save as many lives as possible.  Some horses were later found roaming at the Belair Shopping Center and Glenn Dale Hospital.

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