A devastating fire in Wanatah, Indiana, left nearly 2,000 competitive racing pigeons dead over the weekend. The 2019 Hoosier Classic Million Dollar One Loft Race, which Newsweek calls "one of the most important events in the world of competitive pigeon racing," was going on at the time, and the Hoosier Loft, owned by race organizers Jim and Kelly Ward, was housing all the pigeons for Monday's final race when it went up in flames late Saturday or early Sunday. The administrator of a South Africa pigeon racing website calls it the "greatest modern-day pigeon disaster," per the Times of Northwest Indiana.
"Our family has spent hundreds of hours working in this loft and it has become our life," the Wards said in a statement posted on the race website. "We are thankful that our children are safe, but we are devastated at the loss of something that we lived to do on a daily basis." Four of their dogs were also killed in the fire. LaPorte County authorities are investigating the cause of the fire. "I can not stress enough as to how sorry we are to everyone who lost pigeons in this tragedy," reads another message from the Wards on the website. "My sons are my hero's after witnessing them trying to run into a fire this past Sunday morning." (Read more pigeon stories.)