The owner of Black Rapids Farm - the site of a massive barn fire last Friday - says his harrowing experience began with a bit of irony.

Peter Ruiter had just been finishing lunch at his Prince of Wales home when his doorbell started ringing repeatedly.

"I'm going 'Well, that guy's having a bad day,'" Ruiter told CFRA's News and Views with Rob Snow Wednesday.

"I went over to the door, he opened the door and he goes 'Peter, your barn's on fire.'"

Moments later, Ruiter was at the front of his burning 125-year-old barn with his dairy cows trapped inside."

"In those split seconds, I said 'No, I can't save them,' so I ran around to the far end of the barn," says Ruiter. "I thought I could open another door and try to get some of the younger animals out. The fire was coming at me there too."

"I was standing there and just saying to my cows: 'sorry.'"

80 perished.

It took a massive effort from Ottawa Fire to extinguish the flames. They had to return Tuesday to put out more hot spots .

Despite the horror, Ruiter says there are still positives to grasp onto, like the amount of support he has received from the community in the aftermath.

He says he's received help from people who are old friends to a recent immigrant to Canada who handed him 20 dollars.

"That... that just gets you. That puts you over the top. I don't know how to repay that guy."

Ruiter says there's a generalization within the city that the farming community has each other's back.

"But I'm going to tell my friends the city has your back too."

A GoFundMe page set up to help the Ruiter family has raised tens of thousands of dollars.