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Fire destroys Downsville barn, hay bales inside

September 04, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

DOWNSVILLE - Hundreds of bales of hay intended to feed cattle through the winter burned in a barn fire that attracted firefighters from around the county Sunday.

As smoke poured from the ruins of a tin barn on 16600 Hawks Landing Lane off Downsville Pike, Williamsport Volunteer Fire Co. Deputy Chief Fred Cole said Sunday morning that the metal had trapped the heat and flames deep within the structure.

Fifty firefighters from Williamsport, Halfway, Fairplay, Funkstown, Clear Spring, Maugansville, Boonsboro and Sharpsburg responded to the scene, Cole said.

No one was hurt in the blaze.

Jane Coffman, whose husband's family works Coffman Farms, said Sunday morning that her family found out about the fire between 6 and 6:30 a.m. Firefighters arrived about 20 minutes later, she said.

The barn, which was built a few years ago, contained 800 bales of hay and a few pieces of equipment, Coffman said. While the equipment was insured, Coffman said she did not know how much the hay would cost to replace.

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"Livestock wasn't in this barn, just their food," she said.

According to a press release from the Maryland State Fire Marshal, the total estimated damage to the barn, hay, a dump truck and a tractor was $100,000. Deputy State Fire Marshal Jason Mowbray said determining a cause likely would take several days.

Cows in a stone barn just a few feet from the fire mooed in their enclosures as neighboring farmers gathered to discuss ways they could help tear the tin from the roof. One held a huge metal hook attached to a long cable.

Alvin Massey, who lives in a centuries-old home neighboring Coffman Farms, said he heard a pop earlier in the morning and a horn honk. Then, he saw the flames.

"It was all red when we saw it this morning. It's a shame. It was winter hay in there," he said.

According to Massey, neighboring farmers planned to help out the Coffmans.

"Everybody helps everybody," he said.

As he spoke, one man drove a large yellow piece of machinery in reverse from Downsville Pike toward the scene of the fire.

Anyone with information about the fire may call the State Fire Marshal's Hagerstown office at 301-791-4758.

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