Ten cows have died at a dairy farm in Champaign County, Ohio, following a severe storm on Tuesday morning.
The cows were killed as the storm rolled through the area, producing multiple cloud-to-ground lightning strikes. One of these strikes ignited a two-story barn fire, according to this report from WHIO-TV in Dayton, Ohio.
Cindy Howman was at the location in her residence when she heard what she called “the loudest clap of lightening ever.” After going outside to inspect any damage, Howman found the nearby cattle barn on fire.
Dozens of the farm’s show cows were inside the barn at the time, seeking shelter from the rain.
“I ran out to get as many of the cows out as I could,” Howman told WHIO-TV during an emotional interview. “I’ll never forget the sound of the roof crashing down on them. And I couldn’t get them out.”
Up to 10 cows were in the barn at the time of the roof collapse. The rest of the dairy’s 60 cows survived the fire.
West Liberty Fire Chief John Esch reported that the inferno’s flames and smoke could be seen for miles, and the barn was mostly destroyed by the time fire crews arrived on the scene.
“That hay is just that much more fuel. That’s what’s going to add to the heat, add to the fire,” Esch told reporters. “There wasn’t anything we could do with the barn — just protect what’s around it.”
The fire is still under investigation, though Esch expects lightening to be to blame. The area, like much of the country, is experiencing a significant drought, so the storm had been an answer to the concerns of producers across the state. However, the rain came at a high price for the dairy farm.