By Melissa Garcia

ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – A fire ripped through a barn in Adams County on Saturday. Owners rushed to save the animals inside, but eight horses and one unidentified small animal did not make it out alive.

(credit: CBS)

South Adams County firefighters responded shortly after 2 p.m. to the scene on Pontiac Street near 84th Avenue. An estimated 70 to 80 horses lived on the ranch, horse owners said.

(credit: CBS)

Black smoke billowed into the air as flames raged through the barn. As firefighters battled the blaze, Alex Martinez rushed to the stable to make sure that his two horses were safe.

“I was heading to Home Depot, but I turned around and I came back right away,” Martinez said of the moments after he learned of the fire.

(credit: CBS)

Fortunately, Martinez’s horses survived.

“Mine were okay. It’s just my friends’ horses. They were the ones that didn’t make it,” he said. “It’s sad.”

Blackened frames were all that remained of the barn that went up in flames. CBS4 spoke with another man whose uncle was among dozens of Coloradans who board horses on the property.

(credit: South Adams County Fire Department)

“(My uncle’s) horse was saved,” he said. “He came here on time, but unfortunately for the others, they got burned.”

Martin Aguirre, a friend of some of the owners of the deceased horses, arrived as the charred structure still smoldered.

“It feels awful,” he said. “For my friends and their loss.”

(credit: CBS)

A neighbor said the ranch owner was not at home when the fire started. Some horse owners relocated their animals after the fire.

Investigators and the fire marshal were working to figure out how the fire started. As of Saturday night, the cause was unknown.

Melissa Garcia has been reporting for CBS4 News since March 2014. Find her bio here, follow her on Twitter @MelissaGarciaTV, or send your story idea to