Howell Barn Fire Kills Four Harness Racing Horses

By: Hannah Saunders Email
By: Hannah Saunders Email

The Sattelberg family's barn of twenty yeas on Crandall Road was completely covered in flames while the four harness racing horses were trapped inside. "They had a well pump in the building," explained Howell Fire Department's Assistant Chief Brian Anderson. "They had a heat lamp that was heating that to keep it from freezing. We were told by the owner when he went out that it was in the area of that well pump."

Brandon Root is still in shock about what happened to his step-father and mother's barn. His past is filled with memories of the barn and horses, now reduced to ash: "A lot of summers we would race all around at different fairs in different counties."

Brandon's step-father Lee Sattelberg, has harness raced dozens of horses his whole life and is even a member of the Michigan Harness Racing Hall of Fame. He was in the process of slowly retiring his remaining horses and himself from the racing business until now. The barn was not insured.

This day was devastating for Brandon's parents, who were also facing another blow: "The county, or whoever it was ran city water down the road and gave us twenty hook-ups, then assessed their taxes $2,000 per each hook-up. So pretty much they were already going to lose the house over that then this had to happen," shared Brandon.

Brandon says the horses were the couple's whole life. Now the family will be forced to move away from their home without them. An abrupt end to one of Michigan's longest harness raving legacies.

The Michigan Harness Horseman's Association has set up a fundraiser for the family. To help them out call: (517) 349-2920.


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