A vineyard in eastern Connecticut, which just only opened a few months, plans to rebuild after a fire on Tuesday destroyed its main processing facility, an old dairy barn.
The Vineyard at Hillyland opened for business in March. On the Fourth of July, the Stearn family was enjoying a picnic in the yard when they noticed smoke coming from the top of the barn.
"Flames were coming out of the upstairs windows by the time we noticed it. There was nobody in the building,” The Vineyard at Hillyland owner Geri Stearns said.
Scotland volunteer firefighters were busy putting out hot spots in the smoldering bales of hay on Wednesday morning. Stearns vowed to rebuild after the fire at 75 Murphy Hill Road, around 5 p.m.
"It’s something you can't possibly imagine,” Stearns said.
Firefighters from several towns battled the blaze for hours. One firefighter was overcome by heat exhaustion. They worked to keep the fire from spreading, but it destroyed everything inside, which was all the equipment used to make wine. Inside was as four years’ worth of product, which they just started selling from the tasting room in March.
"This has been a project, ten years in the making....so when we first planted,” Stearns said.
Since 2007, Stearns and her family have planted 3,400 vines, making award-winning vintage wine.
Stearns told Eyewitness News there was only one other fire at that location in 1929. It was July 4th and started by fireworks. It burned the house down.
Not daunted by the loss, Stearns said she hopes to re-open this Friday.
"We need to go on. We have a business and we need to go on,” Stearns said.
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