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Pennsylvania man charged with arson in Tioga Downs barn fire

By Traci DeLore (


NICHOLS, N.Y. — A Pennsylvania man was arrested Thursday in connection with a barn fire at the Tioga Downs Casino complex in Nichols that killed more than two dozen racehorses.

New York State Police say Boyd Fenton, 32, of Athens, Pennsylvania was charged with third-degree arson, third-degree burglary, second-degree criminal mischief, and second-degree assault.

New York State Police have charged an Athens, Pennsylvania man following a Thurdsay fire at Tioga Downs in Nichols that killed more than two dozen race horses. Boyd Fenton is facing charges that include arson, burglary, criminal mischief, and assault. (Photo credit: Tioga Downs Casino Resort website)

Fenton allegedly entered the barn during the early morning hours on Thursday and intentionally set a fire that killed numerous racehorses and caused thousands of dollars in damage. Investigators say one person who entered the barn in an attempt to save horses suffered second-degree burns and was transported to Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, Pennsylvania for treatment.

“We are deeply saddened by today’s tragedy, it was a loss no one could have imagined or expected,” Jeff Gural, chairman of American Racing and Entertainment, said in an emailed statement. “It is an active investigation, so we are not able to comment any further at this time. We would like to express our sincere gratitude for all of the first responders who rushed to our aid. We have a wonderful community, and we are honored to be a part of it.”

American Racing and Entertainment operates Tioga Downs in Nichols in Tioga County as well as Vernon Downs Casino Hotel in Oneida County.

Fenton was arraigned and sent to the Tioga County Correctional Facility. The investigation is ongoing.

Troopers on the scene of the fire were assisted by Nichols Fire and multiple mutual-aid agencies including Tioga Center Fire Department and Waverly-Barton Fire Department along with several Pennsylvania emergency agencies including Wyndham Township, Athens Fire, Athens Borough Fire, Greater Valley EMS, and Bradford County rehab trailer. Other responding and assisting agencies include Tioga County Emergency Services, Tioga County Fire Investigation, New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control, and New York State Police.

Tioga Downs includes a harness racetrack, which is open from May to September, along with a casino and amenities including hotel, spa, dining, and golf options.


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