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Family counts blessings after devastating barn fire

Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 4:53 PM EDT
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TOWN OF ELLISBURG, New York (WWNY) - In last Thursday’s barn fire near Ellisburg, the Eastman family lost a barn and more than 200 calves. As devastating as that is, the Eastman family is counting its blessings.

Flames tore through the barn and cows fled into nearby fields.

“When I showed up, the whole barn was on fire. I saw neighbors and friends were trying to unhook calves from the hutches,” said Bill Eastman, member, Eastman Dairy Farm, LLC.

A piece of the Eastman’s family business was burning to the ground. In it were thousands of pounds of hay and hundreds of calves. More than 200 didn’t make it out.

“There are some that you just quickly have to analyze. Who’s okay, and who’s already gone,” said Eastman.

When fire crews got to the scene Thursday night, they knew there wasn’t much they could do to stop the fire. So, the focus changed to preserving nearby buildings, like a free-stall barn where cows eat and sleep.

“The next thing is, what can we protect,” said Eastman.

Even in the darkest of moments, Eastman family members consider themselves lucky. Their milking cows are okay and their farm house is still standing, even though some of the siding melted off.

Thanks to the community and a generator on loan from a neighboring business, cows were being milked within hours.

“Five hours time we were able to start milking, and they need to be taken care of. They’re our income,” said Eastman.

Support for the Eastman family keeps coming. People are bringing food for the family and supplies to clean up.

“Everybody showed up and offered something. It’s great,” said Eastman.

Because the barn burned to the ground, fire officials will never know how the fire started. Eastman says he isn’t dwelling on the past. He’s got a barn to rebuild.

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