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Cows escape barn fire

March 26, 1998|By DON AINES

Cows escape barn fire

WILLOW HILL, Pa. - More than 100 cows escaped a fire that destroyed a Metal Township barn early Wednesday, according to Metal Township Volunteer Fire Co. Chief Dru Allen.

"They just ran. They were terrified," said Anna Swailes of 19056 Swailes Road. She and her husband William own the barn, which was on adjoining property they own at 18690 Swailes Road.

The fire was reported at 4:52 a.m., Allen said. While the wooden bank barn was destroyed, he said an attached loafing barn was not badly damaged.

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"The one employee that discovered the fire was in the milking parlor and when he went to bring in another group, he spotted the fire," Anna Swailes said Wednesday afternoon.

She said the employee opened one set of gates allowing the cows and heifers to escape. Swailes said her husband and son, Carl, opened up a second gate to free the other cows.

While no livestock was lost, Swailes said some showed evidence of being singed by the fast-moving fire. The barn was used to house dry cows and heifers, but not milking cows, she said.

Along with the barn, two older corn pickers, a feed grinder and mixer and about 100 round bales of hay inside were destroyed, she said.

"We're really puzzled," Swailes said of the fire.

Allen said the state police fire marshal's office was being called in to determine the cause, but Swailes said two investigators had no idea what caused the fire when they inspected the scene.

According to Swailes, the only electricity to the barn was for lighting and the wiring had been replaced about three years ago.

Firefighters were on the scene for about seven hours, Allen said. Units from the Fannett-Metal, Pleasant Hall, Letterkenny Army Depot, St. Thomas and Franklin Fire companies assisted, along with units from McConnellsburg and Hustontown in Fulton County, Pa.

Swailes said the farm has been in her family for several generations. Despite the loss of the barn, she said it could have been much worse.

"You deal with whatever happens and go on," she said.

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