An Amherst, N.S., woman is without a home and a business after a fire destroyed her house, which also served as a daycare, on Tuesday morning.

All children and adults managed to escape safely, but the structure is beyond repair – which has its owner contemplating her next steps.

After experiencing the loss of her house, daycare owner Amanda Brown is feeling a mix of emotions – noting she’s overwhelmed and devastated.

"I still have my moments of disbelief that this actually happened," says Brown.

Her colleague first noticed smoke coming from her porch room and hollered for Brown to save herself and the children.

First responders recall the magnitude and speed at which the fire destroyed the house before they arrived on the scene.

"As we were going to the scene, we noticed a large plume of black smoke,” says Amherst Fire Chief Gregory Jones. “When we arrived at the residence, it was fully involved."

Brown recalls the incident and fast action on her part to save all parties in the building.

"I probably had about five kids in my arms, rushing them out the door, carrying them up the stairs – I got them outside,” says Brown. “Once we got them to a safe spot, I ran back inside to make sure everyone was out."

During the fire, neighbours watched in disbelief.

"I came up, and I noticed some smoke on the end windows of my home, and I took a look out, and there was just this flame,” says Margaret McAloon. “And I was just like 'oh my goodness, what is going on?'"

Following the loss of her home, Red Cross volunteers are helping Brown in her time of need.

The Amherst Fire Department, which also responded to a fire at a vacant building on Church Street on Tuesday night, say they were very busy assisting with both fires.

"I would say it'd be a total loss," says Jones concerning the daycare.

Brown says she took one final look amidst the ashes before leaving the scene of the fire.

"I just wanted to know if there was anything I could save – any memories of my children,” says Brown. “But it’s gone – so I’ll have to start some new ones."

In the meantime, Brown doesn’t know when she’ll be able to return home or begin business operations.

The cause of the fire has yet to be determined.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kate Walker