Shockwaves from the fire that killed more than 40 horses at a high-end stable in Puslinch will reverberate across Ontario’s horse racing industry, people affected by the fire said Tuesday.

Fire crews were called to the Classy Lane Stables Training Centre on Concession 1 in Puslinch late Monday night.

Before long, about 50 firefighters were on scene – including crews from Hamilton, Cambridge, Guelph and Guelph-Eramosa.

“From a couple of kilometres away, they could see the flames and the smoke,” Jason Benn, Puslinch’s chief fire prevention officer, told CTV News.

By daybreak, the toll of the fire was apparent – 43 of the 220 or so horses housed at the property were killed, in the costliest fire in the history of Puslinch Township.

The barn they were in will need to be demolished.

Jamie Millier, who owns Classy Lane Stables and flew home from a Florida vacation once he learned of the fire, called the loss “devastating” – particularly as the barn had undergone an electrical assessment just months earlier.

“I honestly thought I was going to have another heart attack,” he said of his reaction to hearing the news.

“You just don’t expect this to happen to a building that’s 13 years old.”

Ben Wallace is a horse owner and trainer. He trained 17 of the horses killed in the fire, and owned parts of 12.

He was notified of the fire not long after it was discovered, and arrived at the stable before midnight.

“There was absolutely no opportunity (to) save anything,” he told CTV News.

“The smoke was so dense that there was no shot at going in.”

Wallace said that in addition to the financial hit to the owners of the horses, their caretakers could find themselves out of jobs.

“You don’t lose that many at one time and not feel the effects,” he said.

The barn contained steel siding, cement floors, and rubber mats in the horse stalls, as well as an electric heating system. It did not have a sprinkler system.

Wallace described it as a “state-of-the-art” facility, while Miller said it was difficult for him to understand how flames could consume it as quickly as they did.

Many of the horses housed at Classy Lane race at tracks like Mohawk, Woodbine and Flamboro Downs.

“It drew some of the best horses in Canada, and some of the best horses in the world,” Wallace said.

One of his horses in the barn was Apprentice Hanover, who had won 15 races and passed the $1-million earnings mark in his last race.

He also lost all of his trophies and ribbons, which he kept in an office inside the barn.

Speaking to reporters, Flamboro Downs general manager John Stolte said the fire would have a “devastating” effect on the entire industry.

“Ben Wallace has an exceptional amount of top calibre horses,” he said.

“To have this happen is again a reminder of how delicate things are.”

Several crowdfunding campaigns have been set up for those wishing to contribute to those affected by the fire. Many, like Wallace, did not have the majority of their horses insured because of the high cost.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation by the Office of the Fire Marshal.

While the barn where the fire occurred will need to be demolished, firefighters were able to save other structures on the property.

Preliminary damage estimates are pegged between $4 million and $6 million.

With files from CTV Toronto