CENTRE TWP., Pa. - A barn in Centre Township became an inferno that took the lives of dozens of cows and the livelihood of a dairy farmer.
"Anytime I hear barn fire come across the pager you get that sinking feeling," said Fire Chief Dennis Kunkle, Central Berks Fire Company.
That gut check for local firefighters sent them to Rake Road in Centre Township to Barry Good's Farm.
"And as soon as I was out my driveway I saw the columns of smoke in the area," said Kunkle, "I knew it wasn't good."
Bad doesn't describe it. The whole barn where the milking herd was kept was in flames.
"We had guys in there letting them loose, but these cows are always in the barn. They're not used to being out. And they just panicked. They ran the wrong way.
They wouldn't go out," said Kunkle, " And while they were in trying to get out the top of the barn collapsed."
Kunkle said about 78 cows died and less than a handful made it out. No firefighters were injured.
The chief said at the height of the fire there was as many as 70 to 75 firefighters working and hours later some will still be working.
"When they dig the tin off of it there's spots that flare up. There's a lot of embers. We have to tear the whole thing apart to put it out," said Kunkle.
They still need to determine why.
"They have a feed mixer they use to feed the cows. They just fed them. Fed it in," said Kunkle, "We don't know. It was either a short or something started with the tractor."
As a fellow farmer the chief said this fire was devastating.
"He lost his livelihood, the milking herd and he basically said he's done. He's not going to rebuild it," said Kunkle, "He's not going to go back in it."
But the community won't let Barry Good clean up alone.
"I bet there's 20 farmers here tonight," said Kunkle, "They were here within a half hour from when we were here. What can we do."
The chief said farmers will be back when they're done.
Allentown, PA 18102