DINWIDDIE COUNTY, Va. -- Richlands Dairy Farm in Dinwiddie County is picking up the pieces of a Tuesday fire that decimated a barn, killing nine calves.
"It was a mess this morning but at least it's mostly cleaned up," Hugh Jones, Richlands' president, said.
Jones said he had been by the farm earlier in the night on his way to the staff Christmas party. He said the party was being held on the other side of the property and that everything looked normal.
Around 8:30 p.m., they got word that the barn was on fire.
"By the time we got up here, the building was fully engulfed. We've got a water hose there but you couldn't even get close enough, the building was so hot," Jones said.
Several fire departments responded, using around 5,000 gallons of water to put out the flames. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Nine young calves, all less than 10 days old, were inside the barn and couldn't be saved.
"Thank goodness it didn't spread to the next calf shed because it would have been some 40-some calves in that shed," Jones said.
He said the response from friends and neighbors was immediate, with many asking how they could help and some even taking part in the clean-up.
"We live in an awfully good community. We've got really good neighbors and friends and yeah, it's very heartwarming," Jones said.
By Wednesday afternoon, work was already underway on a new barn as life on the farm doesn't stop.
"Something like this is certainly heartbreaking, but you got to rebuild and move on because the cows aren't going to stop calving," Jones said.
Jones said that insurance will only cover about a third of the cost of replacing the barn and they are trying to cover the rest.
He added that because the fire was contained to just that building, the rest of their operations haven't stopped, including at the creamery which is running at its normal hours.