Twelve horses died and two were critically injured in a barn fire at an equestrian complex in suburban Palm Beach, the owner said Wednesday.
Sam Stathis, owner of the South Florida Trotting Center, told the Palm Beach Post that along with the critically injured horses, nine others survived and were taken to a veterinarian. The fire erupted late Tuesday and burned into the early morning Wednesday.
"We saved 11 horses, and we lost 12,'' Stathis told the newspaper. "God be with us.''
Palm Beach County Fire Rescue officials told the Post that workers were able to get some horses out as the fire spread. The barn's roof collapsed and hay inside fed the flames.
Stable worker Roman Lopez told NBC affiliate WPTV his friend tried to open gates and let horses out, but the thick smoke made it impossible.
"It was just too tough. The roof started to come down. The horses were just on fire. You just freak out. You don't know which way to go,'' he said.
Officials said the fire's cause is still under investigation.