A barn fire Wednesday devastated a Rock County horse rescue location, killing 24 horses.

Cindy Bondowski, who started the Humane Organization Rescuing and Saving Equine, or HORSE, about 15 years ago with her husband, Jim, said 14 of the horses killed were rescue animals and 10 were the couple's own horses.

The couple was able to get five horses out of the burning barn, and a Shetland pony that was in the barn also survived the blaze, along with about 20 horses that were outside when the fire broke out, Bondowski said.

"We kept trying to go back in," she said, but the flames were too intense and firefighters would not let them go into the barn.

Bondowski said her husband suffered burns.

The fire was reported just after 8:40 a.m. at 927 Old Highway 11 in Footville, the Rock County 911 Center said.

Bondowski said the fire was likely caused by an electrical problem.

The couple is in immediate need of a rental property with a home and barn, as well as veterinary and other supplies lost in the fire, she said.

A fund for the rescue organization has been set up at M&I Bank in Janesville. Donations also can be made at www.animalfairycharities.org.

"The whole barn went down, so everything is gone," Bondowski said.

Among the items needed are halters, lead ropes, saddles, bridles, driving harnesses, grain, hay, blankets and veterinary supplies, she said.

All but three of the surviving horses, which need special medicine and therapy, have been taken to a neighbor's barn, Bondowski said.

Bondowski said her husband awoke and looked out the window to see horses running wildly. "He looked toward the barn and saw smoke and fire coming out of the top. We ran out there and opened the door. It was just black and fully engulfed in the rafters."

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