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Less than 12 hours after a massive fire razed his barn, JC’s Orchard owner John Czupryniak is selling Christmas trees a few metres from the debris faster than you can blink.
“I can’t put a value on that,” he said, choking up when asked about the dollar loss of the barn.
While 38 firefighters and 12 trucks battled the flames at the corner of Fallowfield Rd. and Moodie Dr. around 10 p.m. Friday, Czupryniak was out having dinner after a long day.
“It was quite cold outside and I wanted to warm up on a good steak. I guess the barbecue was here,” he said, chuckling as his eyes filled up with tears.
“I need to joke.”
The cause hasn’t been determined, but the fire began in the barn’s office, said Ottawa fire services investigator Dave Montone, adding a 100-pound propane tank exploded as a result.
The barn is more than 100 years old, and Czupryniak, who’s been running the orchard for 32 years, had just cleaned it out.
“I usually have a big 26-foot tree inside for the kids. And I think that’s the impact there. It’s hurting me,” said Czupryniak.
It’s also hurting customers like Shelby and Jeff Hill, who drove from Westboro to pick up a tree.
“Soon as we turned off the Queensway my jaw dropped,” said Jeff Hill.
“It’s gotta be pretty devastating.”
His wife Shelby has been visiting the orchard since she was a kid.
Her aunt and uncle live around the corner.
“We’ve been coming here for pumpkins, apples, Christmas trees for as long as I can remember,” she said.
The orchard is a popular year-round destination.
“People travel through the barn. The kids love it. About three generations have gone through there,” Czupryniak said.
The barn is insured and the cost of demolition and rebuilding is estimated at $250,000.
Though no one was injured, Montone said the charred barn is a public safety hazard and should be demolished by Sunday.
Shelby Hill is sad to see it go.
“It’s kind of a loss of a tradition,” she said.