Massive barn fire kills 900 goats in Elgin County

CTV London Published Saturday, December 7, 2013 10:54AM EST Last Updated Saturday, December 7, 2013 6:34PM EST

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About 900 goats perished in a massive blaze Saturday near St. Thomas.

Elgin OPP say there are $2 million in damages after a barn caught fire just after 1 a.m. at 934 Mill Rd., in Southwold Township, just west of St.Thomas.

For owner Ed Donkers, the loss of the animals is crushing.

"Every animal seems like they're your pet.  And it's really hard to lose all 900 of them," he says.

Donkers was awoken by police who had to hold him back as he tried to make it to the barn to save his goats.

The family had switched from a dairy farm operation to goats a few years ago and had built a state-of-the-art facility.

Donkers says the demand for goats' milk has grown so fast in recent years that he was planning to double the size of this facility to 1,800 goats, within two years.

"It's such a vibrant, exciting industry and to be hit so hard, it's really devastating right now. I'm still in shock," says Donkers, who does have insurance.

Farm equipment, along with 1,000 bales of straw and 400 bales of hay were also destroyed.

Nobody was injured in the fire.

The Ontario Fire Marshall is investigating and police are providing security at the scene.

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