A fire that broke out in a barn at a south Winnipeg stable was brought under control Monday morning, but not before dozens of horses suffered smoke inhalation, including three who died.

Winnipeg firefighters responded to a fire at Sagehill Stables at 4180 Waverley Street at around 5:21 a.m., and stuck around hours after the fire was extinguished to assist with rescuing 27 horses from a smoke-filled barn.

While the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service said the cause was under investigation, a statement posted on the Sagehill Stables website said the fire “was contained to a separate building attached to the barns, the cause being a tractor block heater.”

The statement said staff were notified of the fire by cell phone thanks to a smart alarm system and arrived to begin evacuating the barn. It said after the fire was out, firefighters worked with veterinarians and staff to triage and treat horses who were not able to get out unscathed.

A spokesperson for the fire department said they are equipped with masks made to provide oxygen to cats and dogs, and treating horses in need was a challenge.

“…We cannot thank them enough for this support which we believe saved many horses lives,” said the statement from the stable.

In addition to the three horses who did not survive, a barn cat also died. A number of horses are still receiving critical care, and the stable has asked “everyone to send their prayers and thoughts to these horses and their owners.”