A bitch and nine puppies and seven adult hounds were killed when fire swept through the kennels of the Fairfax hunt, in Virginia, US, on Wednesday (11 March).

Three hunt horses also died in the fire.

Joint-master Randolph Rouse told H&H: “The investigator said there was a faulty connection to the fridge in the tack room, but we don’t yet know if that is where the fire started.”

Huntsman Kevin Palmer saw the fire when he rose at 5.30am and released the hounds from their enclosure.

“Most of the hounds got away, but the bitch and puppies were in a separate area and we could not get them out,” said Mr Rouse.

The fire was too intense for the horses to be saved. Both the kennels and the stable yard were razed to the ground.

The hounds are temporarily being bedded down in horse trailers.

The hunt has two weeks left of their season and has invited a neighbouring pack to hunt their country this week.