A large fire Wednesday morning in Ingonish, N.S., destroyed a barn and the livestock inside, which were the heart of a young family's business and livelihood.
The barn belonged to the Groovy Goat Farm & Soap Company, located along the Cabot Trail in northern Cape Breton.
"It just was such a shock and it all just happened so fast," said Shannon Costelo, who owns the Groovy Goat with her husband, Ryan Costelo.
Costelo said a neighbour knocked on their door to point out smoke coming from the barn behind their house.
"We went out right away and there was smoke at that point ... It didn't seem like a lot so my husband ran out with the fire extinguisher. But he went in and the whole barn was already filled with smoke," Costelo said.
She said her husband kicked the doors open, hoping the goats inside, which included some new kids, would run out, but none did. They were unable to rescue any of the animals that were in the barn.
Engulfed in flames within minutes
"It just went so fast and, you know, the whole barn was filled with hay in the hay loft, so ... it didn't take long," she said. It was only about, like, five or 10 minutes from the time we saw the smoke that it was totally engulfed in flames."
The wind was blowing in the direction of the family home, Costelo said, so while her husband called for fire crews, she packed up their three children and got them off the property for fear the barn fire would spread.
Costelo said her family built the barn about five years ago as their business was just taking off. They operate a petting farm and a shop where they sell their goat milk, soaps and other bath products.
In addition to their goats, the family also owns some cows, which were out in a pasture at the time of the fire.
'It was pretty traumatic'
Costelo said her husband is also the chief of the Ingonish volunteer fire department, which is not far from their home, so he got the truck from the station and started trying to extinguish the blaze with the help of neighbours before additional fire crews arrived.
"It was very hard for him," Costelo said. "It was pretty traumatic."
Crews from Ingonish and Neils Harbour responded to the blaze around 8:30 a.m.
Victoria County deputy warden Larry Dauphinee was among the firefighters responding to the call.
"It's a big loss to the community," Dauphinee said. "It's definitely a young couple with a nice business on the go ... I'm sure the community will pull together and assist as much as they can."
Dauphinee said high winds made the fire difficult to control, as crews worked to save nearby buildings.
A GoFundMe account has been launched to raise money for the Costelo family.
Costelo said she and her husband haven't talked a lot yet about what comes next, but she's hoping to keep the business going.
"We'll never, never get the animals back and we'll have to live with what happened," she said. "But we do hopefully plan to rebuild the barn and kind of pick ourselves up and keep going, if we can."
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