The local dairy Rollingstone Chevre, a family-owned goat cheesemaker that has operated in Parma for decades, was largely destroyed in a fire this week.
Owner Karen Evans awoke around midnight Wednesday to flashlights shining into her bedroom and first-responders knocking on her doors and windows.
By the time she got outside of her home, which is next to the dairy, several fire trucks had already arrived.
A passerby on Highway 95 had seen the fire and called 911, Evans said.
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“I will be eternally grateful,” she said. “Two more hours, and everything would have been gone, including my house.”
The fire started in the rear part of the Rollingstone Chevre building, where the furnace and milk-storage tanks are located, Evans said. Those areas are destroyed. The retail and office rooms of the building have water damage.
The dairy has about 100 goats. They were not harmed, “thank goodness,” Evans said. “They were terrified because the firefighters were out in the pasture where they live.”
But time is of the essence in rebuilding, Evans said. That’s because the female goats will start to give birth in late February and early March. The milking season will begin, and the equipment Rollingstone uses for milking was destroyed, she said.
Evans estimates it will cost at least $500,000 to get back up and running.
She is not confident that insurance will pay for damages, even though the fire marshal told her “he didn’t think I did anything wrong.”
If insurance does pay for reconstruction, Evans thinks it will take a “long, protracted” process to make that happen.
A GoFundMe fundraising account has been set up to accept donations for the company and the family.
Evans said firefighters who put out the blaze were “amazing, wonderful people” and that she’s thankful her home and goats were saved.
But she is not sure what the future holds for the business she built with her husband — who died five years ago of cancer — and hopes to “somehow” continue making cheese.
“I don’t even know what the next step is,” she said. “It was my livelihood, my life, my dream, and it’s ... gone.”