30 horses die in tractor-trailer fire on Interstate 81

Note: No doubt, these horses were on their way to be slaughtered for human consumption; not rendered.

ALICE MAGGIORE reporting for CNYCENTRAL.com writes:

The Horrors of Horse Slaughter talk balloon. Tuesday's Horse.

LISLE, BROOME COUNTY — A tractor trailer caught fire Monday evening on Interstate 81 leaving 30 horses dead.

Traffic in the northbound lanes were shut down just before 8 p.m., as multiple law enforcement agencies were called to the Town of Lisle, which is just south of the Cortland and Broome County border.

State Police say Clarence Phelps, 56, of Watertown was driving north on 81. He was moving 30 horses from Shippensburg, Pennsylvania to a rendering plant in Massueville, Quebec.

Phelps saw flames coming from the passenger side of the vehicle and pulled over to try to put out the fire.

The nearby Marathon Fire Department and State Police arrived to find flames covering the entire vehicle. They put out the fire, but it was too late to save the horses. All 30 died in the fire.

Troopers say the fire likely started because of a malfunction in the passenger side fuel tank, according to a preliminary investigation.

The New York State Department of Transportation, and the Broome County Sheriff’s Office also helped at the scene.


18 thoughts on “30 horses die in tractor-trailer fire on Interstate 81”

  1. Okay lets make this statight the rotz family are my best friends so id appreciate it if you guys keep you’re shit to you’re self! Bc i was there whenever everything happen and what you guys are saying is bunch of shit! Rotz family is doing what they do to make a livng yeah they might not like what they are doing but guess what they are. So how about you all keep ur mouth shut!


    1. This is a horse respecting blog, if you dont like what is said here , may i suggest you go elsewhere …………………………….. You will find no sympathy for Horse Killers here !!!! who have no common regard for these absolutely wonderful Beings that deserve respect and protection from the likes of your kind !!!!!!! Take a good look at yourself !!!!!!!!!!!!!


      1. Well said, Arlene. These kinds of posts add nothing to the situation at hand. There have to be some rules for transporting animals, but Rotz was not equipped to handle it other than to let tragedy happen. If Congress would pass the SAFE Act, he would not be transporting equines anywhere, and he should not.


        1. Horses are Mirror images of the values we are suppose to have , if you cannot realize this and embrace them , you cannot love yourself………………….. People who harm Horses are Jealous of perfection and beauty, because they have none !!!!!!!!!!!


  2. ! other thing i am terribly sorry i just cant seem to muster up even one little bit of sympathy for him over his $15,000,00 loss !!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  3. These thirty horses were left on this overcrowded trailer to burn to death because they were worth more dead than alive. There was no way Rotz or the driver were ever going to open the narrow door at the back of the trailer, giving at least some of the 30 horses a chance to escape the burning inferno. Doing so would have resulted in horses running loose on the interstate, possibly colliding with motorists resulting in lawsuits against Rotz for horses worth more dead than alive. Also, if any of the horses had survived, that would result in transportation, boarding, and veterinary costs, all for horses worth more dead than alive. 

    Sadly these horses were as good as dead the moment Rotz became their owner. Why feed a dead horse right? Despite federal regulations regarding their transport to slaughter and Pennsylvania law (Title 18 5511 (d) prohibiting the sale and transport of sick, lame & debilitated horses, and requirements that horses be provided with sanitary shelter & necessary vet care, (Title 18, 5511 C.1), these condemned horses, including emaciated  and lame horses, are sold and loaded without any complaints by those witnessing and documenting the crimes. 

    Horse trailers of the same size as Rotz’s that are designed and manufactured to horse industry standards, carry 10-15 horses with at least THREE (3) doorways for each horse carried. The horses on Rotz’s burning inferno had at most two narrow doorways. 

    Horses are normally shipped with highly combustible bedding such as shavings or straw on the floor while hay is carried in hay bags, a net bag with openings that allow the horse to pull bites from a bale of hay hung at their head. Horses normally wear halters while cross tied in individual straight stalls or box stalls. In horse trailers the size of Rotz’s,  video surveillance is utilised or a caretaker rides with the horses, (legal under USDOT regulations), to insure their safety.

    Too many horses, no halters, not enough exits, no ramps suitable for emergency unloading , and the fact the horses were worth more dead the alive all contributed to these poor creatures burning alive.

    It is impossible to transport horses to slaughter utilising the above described methods and safety measures. It costs too much. It is impossible to transport horses according to recommended and accepted horse industry standards within the profit margin for slaughter, so despite New York’s admirable efforts to pass legislation to ensure horses are transported safely, as long as horses are worth more dead than alive, greedy and uncaring individuals such as Rotz will continue  to transport horses in overcrowded trailers resulting in horrific crashes.

    The NY legislature can address this issue by prohibiting the overcrowding inside these trailers and by banning the transport of horses to slaughter.

     The US government can address this issue by banning slaughter.

    The Public can address this issue by demanding that owners who offer for sale, sell, or transport, ( other then for humane keeping & vet care) horses that are sick, lame, and debilitated, be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and by supporting legislation to ban slaughter.

    Owners can address this issue by having their vet euthanise their horses whose value have decreased due to age, soundness issues, lack of training, or lack of demand for horses.  Owners can prevent their horse from ending up at slaughter. Giving horses away is invitation to slaughter. As long as slaughter exists there is no way to ensure your horses,  even your valuable horses, are protected from slaughter. All horses lose value as they age. Once they can no longer perform or produce, and it happens to all horses sooner or later, you are the only person standing between your horse and killer buyer.  

    Remember, only YOU can save your horse from slaughter!


    1. Okay the Rotz’s try to sell useable animals furthermore they lost $15,000 in this fire. The driver tried to unhook the trailer from the truck but was unable to so get a freaking life and get your information straight.


      1. If Rotz didn’t carry cargo insurance, shame on him, being cheap has its drawbacks.
        Rotz is a killer buyer, plain & simple. He sells horses to whoever pays the most money.
        He violates the law every day, look up Title 18, 5511 C.1 & subsection (d). Look up Transactions from Trucks- Buying & selling horses in the parking lot and in close proximity to an auction is illegal. The name Kelsey LeFever comes to mind.
        Face facts & stop trying to portray him & any other killer buyer or low end dealer for what they are.
        Commercial carriers who have hide fires on their trucks have done more, MUCH more, than just trying to unhook & pull away to save the horses inside.
        Christine Berry


  4. “Valued” horses would not ship in this type of transport, and they were not going to a ‘rendering’ plant as some articles have said. They were shipping to an eastern Canadian slaughter plant, without doubt. Horrified? Take action by contacting your US Congressman and two US Senators in Washington, DC today. Request that all three cosponsor S.541 and HR.1094, The Safeguard American Food Exports Act of 2013, which would ban commercial horse slaughter and its equally inhumane profit-mechanism: loose/bulk horse transport. It’s up to us to stop this.
    Find them now: http://votesmart.org/officials#.UYvMFqKG2So


  5. My responses to Gina I am too saddened by this tragedy….to bad the driver didn’t burn…He is the one that needs to burn in hell along with the kill buyers and the people that over breed ….Let’s face it they should be held responsible for the lose of innocent life to me their lives are not innocent but corrupt and not worth a DAMN…. To torture innocent life like the horse to pad your pocket book makes me sick…..I Curse everyone of the low pieces of shit that take part in any of the Horse slaughter or the transportation of this horrific act….Robert Redford you are an actor and a person that could make a difference PLEASE HELP us with this horrible way for horses to be treated ….We Need to get this Horrific Act of slaughtering Horses STOPPED!!!!! PLEASE, PLEASE


    1. Omg seriously kill buyers are only here because of the result of OVER BREEDING! if they were not here we would be over run with neglected horses what do you expect them to do ? And i happen to know this particular buyer sells all useable horses you could not ask for more than that ! The truck driver is just trying to make a living the economy is so hard right now and it is ridiculous to say that his life should be taken to. He tried his best to save every single one of those horses and he could not do anything else. Maybe your life should be taken for being so rude and uninformed.


  6. I’m so saddened by this tragedy. I CURSE people who breed horses. STOP THE BREEDING. People breed horses with total disregard for their life with buying and selling a way of life. I CURSE the horse racing industry. It is an irresponsible industry that provides minimal financial support while making MILLIONS off their bones and backs. I CURSE the multimillionaires in the racing industry who regularly dump horses while going to the Keeneland sale to buy more Derby hopefuls. Kill buyers don’t give a damm about equipment. They don’t even give water of hay while the horses are being transported for hours because they are disposable. Paperwork is often forged to cover up the real name of the racehorse who has possibly made thousands on the track. I feel so sorry for horses. I only wish that some vet will find a way to SPAY mares so the senseless and irresponsible breeding STOPS.


    1. Amen Gina – you are not alone. All we can do is support legislation that either regulates or bans these industries from profiting from the horses’ suffering. We all need to speak up and be heard!


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