OTTAWA -- Fire officials say 120 cows were killed in a large barn fire near the village of Manotick on Thursday, which caused an estimated $2 million in damage.

Firefighters were called to Acredale Farms, on First Line Road near Century Road East, and arrived within five minutes of receiving multiple 911 calls around 7:20 p.m. Thursday.

The black smoke and flames were visible from several kilometres away.

Before crews arrived, Rob Lachapelle, who lives up the road, was leaving his home to swim in the Rideau River when he saw the thick black smoke.

"I ran down the lane way and they were trying to get calves out of the little shelters that are beside the barn," says Lachapelle, who began assisting with efforts to rescue the animals. "The heat was just so intense trying to get those calves out. I mean those plastic shelters were melting."

Lachapelle says other neighbours and passers-by worked together to save as many as eight calves.

"The Manotick community is a very tight-knit community," says Lachapelle. "It was very touching to see people come together."

A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help the owners of the family-run farm.

Ottawa Fire Services' spokesperson Carson Tharris says the barn was fully engulfed when crews arrived at the rural farm.

"We were able to shuttle water from a nearby hydrant and set up a large aerial tower vehicle to extinguish the fire from above," says Tharris. 

"Anytime we are operating on a fire near silos there is a concern that the heat could damage their structural integrity, so we were monitoring those closely throughout the night to make sure that they were not going to collapse."

Firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze by 3 a.m. but stayed throughout the night and into the morning to ensure the fire did not reignite. 

"There are still some areas where heat has been trapped underneath the metal roofing or has been trapped inside the hay," says Tharris. "Crews are going to return (Friday) afternoon to work with an equipment operator to make sure that we can fully extinguish all the areas."

The barn and a nearby structure, which also housed other animals, were destroyed. Ottawa fire is thanking neighbours who helped transport the few surviving animals to nearby shelters and farms. 

About twenty fire trucks were at the scene, and many of the volunteer firefighters working to quell the flames live in the area and have connections to the family-run farm which has been in operation since the 1930s. Some worked on the farm as teenagers.

Tharris adding that it is an additional challenge when responding to neighbours.

Fire investigators have not yet determined the cause of the fire.