Two thousand racing pigeons burned to death in a bird loft in LaPorte County early Sunday. The fire, which destroyed the facility, housed birds from around the world.
On their website, Hoosier Loft owners Jim and Kelly Ward say they are “heartbroken” about the fire, which effectively ended this year’s final weekend of the Hoosier Classic Million Dollar Race. They also combat claims from some breeders that the fire had been purposefully set.
“It is the 9/11 of pigeon racing in the world,” says Jim Gabler, an Illinois pigeon breeder.
Gabler estimates he had about 30 birds housed at Hoosier Loft during the blaze, and says he still thinks the Wards are trustworthy caregivers.
“I can only say they are the salt of the earth type of people that represent and protect our pigeons to the highest level possible,” Gabler says.
The racing pigeons were due to fly between Indiana and Missouri, with a half a million dollars going to the winning bird’s breeder.
The Wards say they are refunding race entry fees, and plan to host the race again in 2020.