Wisconsin Barn Fire Claims 24 Horses

FOOTVILLE, Wis. --

A Rock County couple is devastated after an early-morning fire Wednesday burned through their barn, killing two dozen horses.

The Footville farm of Jim and Cindy Bondowski, located off Old Highway 11 West, is just outside of Janesville. Fire crews were called to the rehabilitation facility for hurt and abandoned horses at roughly 8:45 a.m. on Wednesday.

"My soul hurts right now for these horses," said Cindy Bondowski. "The material loss is overwhelming but the loss of the horses is heartbreaking."

Twenty-two horses died in the fire. Two others -- badly burned -- were put down.

The couple tried to save them.

"And red flames coming out and I yelled out to the wife to tell her the barn was on fire," said Jim Bondowski. "Then when I opened up the big door is when the pressure of the fresh air got inside and it just inflamed the whole barn."

"Hearing a horse -- horses -- cry and try to break out of their stalls, there is no way to explain what terror that is," said Cindy Bondowski. "Someone asked me earlier my thoughts for the day, one word and the only thing I could think of was tragedy."

The Footville fire chief hasn't pinpointed a cause, WISC-TV reported. Chief Joe North said he suspects an electrical problem or heater hanging from a supply room ceiling.

"Every time I walk in the barn and see the horses that didn't get out it's like I drop to my knees," said Cindy Bondowski.

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