Fire destroyed a barn and killed 10 thoroughbred horses and 15 hounds used in the oldest fox hunt in the United States.

Officials were investigating the cause of the fire Monday at Clifton Farm, owned by Piedmont Fox Hounds master and huntsman Randy Waterman.Four horses and dozens of hounds were rescued from the barn and adjoining kennel. By the time firefighters arrived, flames could be seen from more than a mile away. Damage to the structure alone was estimated at more than $100,000, said Fire Marshal Joe Sullivan.

Dennis J. Foster, director of the Leesburg-based national Masters of Foxhounds Association, said the loss comes just days before the steeplechase season is set to open.

"The horse world will know these horses," Foster said.