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Officials Still Investigating CSU Equine Reproduction Lab Fire

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Equine Reproduction Laboratory logoOfficials say it could take days, weeks, or even months to determine the cause of a fire that destroyed the main office of the world-renowned Equine Reproduction Laboratory at Colorado State University’s (CSU) Foothill campus west of Fort Collins. Although investigators estimate damage to be as much as $15 million, no people or animals were injured in the blaze. The fire was discovered by a passerby at 1 a.m. Tuesday, after which fire crews, CSU police, faculty, and students moved horses out of nearby buildings as a precaution.

CSU spokeswoman Dell Rae Moellenberg said it will take a few days to figure out what contents were damaged because the roof came down. The damaged building contained offices and labs for program researchers, as well as a clinical-services area where horses were brought to be examined by veterinarians and students.

Although crews used cranes to remove sections of the damaged roof, Capt. Patrick Love, the Poudre Fire Authority’s public affairs officer, said “There is a potential for more collapse. They can’t focus on the investigation until they remove that danger.”

The Equine Reproduction Laboratory’s mission has been to improve horse reproduction and is part of CSU’s Animal Reproduction and Biotechnology Laboratory. Over the last 30 years, the lab has developed such techniques as collection of semen and artificial insemination, recovery and transfer of equine embryos, and shipping of cooled semen and cooled embryos that are now routinely used in the equine industry.

As Lance Hernandez reports for 7News,

One volunteer, Andrew Bishop, told 7NEWS that people in the horse community are very concerned, not just about the loss of the building but about the content. Bishop said some of that content may be irreplaceable.

‘There may have been hundreds if not millions of dollars worth of frozen semen from some very prominent stallions,’ Bishop said, ‘so yeah, a lot of irreplaceable things.’

‘It was the first research center to split equine embryos and to have foals born from frozen semen and frozen embryos,’ Professor [Jason] Bruemmer said. He recalled the story about a mare named Tuesday who was critically injured during the 2008 Windsor tornado. Her leg was crushed when a shed, ripped from its moorings, fell on the mare. She was euthanized.

Researchers removed her ovaries and recovered 20 eggs. They created four embryos with sperm injection and implanted them in a surrogate. ‘That work was done in this building,’ Bruemmer said.

Image by Equine Reproduction Laboratory, used under Fair Use: Reporting.


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