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70 cows killed in raging fire that destroyed barn in Centre Township, owner says

By Ryan Hughes, Reporter, RHughes@wfmz.com
Published On: Nov 15 2012 10:11:20 AM CST
Updated On: Nov 15 2012 05:27:48 PM CST

A raging fire took a costly toll for a dairy farmer in Berks County on Wednesday.

CENTRE TWP., Pa. -

An inferno that killed dozens of cows Wednesday night has been declared an accident.

The owners of the farm in Centre Twp., Berks Co., got their first look at the damage Thursday morning.

Heavy equipment was brought in at Barry Good's farm as smoke still billowed from the ashes. Charred pieces of wood that once stood as a two-story barn were loaded onto trucks and hauled away.

"I walked out the back door and thought maybe if I looked down here, it was just a dream. Unfortunately it wasn't," said Good, as he broke down in tears.

Good could still visualize the heavy flames. For nearly nine hours, firefighters battled a fast-moving inferno on Rake Road.

"From the smoke coming out, 'til it engulfed the whole building and collapsed, it's just horrible," said Barbara Good, who had a hard time looking at the damage.

Seventy cows died inside the barn as the straw and mattresses underneath their bodies went up in smoke.

"We got them loose, but they were just panicked and we couldn't get them out. It was very smoky and we could hardly stand it, we had to get out of the barn," said Barry Good.

Only six cows inside made it out alive, and the owners said one will probably have to be euthanized.

Fire officials believe the blaze was sparked by a tractor parked inside the structure that's used to power a feed mixer. Damage is estimated to be at least $500,000.

A group of about 30 workers rallied behind the Good family Thursday. Many of them were area farmers and neighbors who were on the property by 7 a.m. with equipment to clean up the mess.

"It's amazing. We have the best neighbors ever," said Barbara Good.

All the cows on the Good's farm were born and raised on their property. With close to 37 years under his belt, Barry Good was still uncertain if he would continue.    

"When I watched my cows die I said no, but today I say maybe," he said.

For now, his focus is on the cleanup.