FORT WORTH, Texas — More than a dozen horses died early Monday morning when fire scorched stables in northwest Fort Worth.
The facility, known simply as "The Ranch" to local boarders, was a popular riding area for families living off Northwest 30th Street.
"I live just down the street, and I saw all the smoke," said Manuary Sanchez, who had two horses injured in the blaze.
Firefighters rushed to the area around 2:30 a.m. after a patrol officer noticed smoke.
Eight horses were initially saved, but as the day progressed it became increasingly clear that some of them would have to be put down as well.
"It's a challenge from the get-go because the bar has hay and manure, which will accelerate the fire," explained Tammy Hawley, the director of operations for the Humane Society of North Texas.
The organization was taking in a few of the injured horses, saying their owners couldn't afford to pay looming veterinarian and rehab bills. A vet was at the scene to decide if they, too, would have to be put down in the near future.
The Quiñones family lost two horses in the fire. All they have left now are cherished memories of the time they spent at the stables every weekend.
"It was very peaceful out here. We would always make a picnic," said Jose Quiñones.
Fire investigators remained at the scene throughout much of the morning and early afternoon. The facility has no electrical or heating systems, but so far, a cause hasn't been determined.