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Barn fire near Stittsville kills 24 calves

Firefighters continue to douse what's left of a barn that burned down hours earlier on Wednesday morning. Two dozen young calves died in the fire. (Jean Delisle/CBC - image credit)
Firefighters continue to douse what's left of a barn that burned down hours earlier on Wednesday morning. Two dozen young calves died in the fire. (Jean Delisle/CBC - image credit)

A barn fire that broke out at a dairy farm near Stittsville early Wednesday morning has killed 24 calves.

Brittany Hill whose family owns Hill Isle Farms, said she woke to someone banging on her front door shortly after 2 a.m. It was a neighbour alerting the couple to the fire that was blazing just metres behind their home.

"When I looked out the window, I just saw red-orange smoke," Hill said. "I wasn't really sure what was on fire, but it was something big."

Hill and her husband Spencer quickly realized it was one of their barns that was on fire and called 911 for help.

According to Ottawa Fire Services (OFS) spokesperson Nicholas DeFazio, firefighters arrived at the scene to find the 10-by-25-metre barn at the back of the property engulfed in flames.

Spencer Hill and his wife Brittany Hill pictures at Hill Isle Farms, as firefighters work in the background.
Spencer Hill and his wife Brittany Hill pictures at Hill Isle Farms, as firefighters work in the background.

Spencer and Brittany Hill say they plan to rebuild the destroyed barn in the coming months. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

Intense fire forced 'defensive attack'

When the first fire crews arrived and saw the heavy smoke and flames they requested additional resources, DeFazio said.

Unable to enter the building due to the intensity of the fire, firefighters began a "defensive attack" by dousing the area with water. That prevented the fire from spreading to nearby silos, he said.

Because there are no municipal fire hydrants near the property, DeFazio said firefighters used tanker trucks to shuttle in water from the nearest source.

No one was injured in the fire, but Hill said her family was devastated to learn that 24 of their youngest calves had perished in the barn. The youngest was born just three weeks ago.

"Unfortunately there was nothing that we could do," she said, adding that the family is still in shock.

According to OFS, crews were unable to enter the structure due to the magnitude of the fire and began a defensive attack-- that entails surrounding a structure and dousing it with water.
According to OFS, crews were unable to enter the structure due to the magnitude of the fire and began a defensive attack-- that entails surrounding a structure and dousing it with water.

Firefighters were initially unable to enter the barn due to the intensity of the fire. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

Hill said a considerable amount of hay or feed, along with some machinery, was also destroyed in the fire.

Still, she said she takes some comfort in knowing things could have been worse. She said the family plans to rebuild the barn in the coming months.

DeFazio said the cause of the fire remains undetermined. A fire investigator was at the scene Wednesday.