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Fire destroys dairy barn in Quincy Township

Fifty firefighters working 40 firetrucks kept flames from spreading to milking parlor

Fifty firefighters working 40 firetrucks kept flames from spreading to milking parlor

November 17, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

MONT ALTO, Pa. -- Smoke continued to roll off straw and the remains of a dairy barn Tuesday, hours after an overnight fire destroyed the structure and an adjacent garage in Quincy Township, Pa.

Firefighters reported seeing balls of fire burst into the air as high as the nearby Hess water tank when propane tanks exploded. Those explosions threw roof beams and other debris across Barkdoll Lane, where the Rodes dairy farm lines half of the road.

Firetrucks blocked Slabtown Road as they carried 180,000 gallons of water from the Borough of Mont Alto to the scene.

Mont Alto Fire Chief Dan Reed said almost every fire company in Franklin County, Pa., was called for assistance, as well as several from Washington County and Cumberland County, Pa. They were notified of the fire at 11 p.m. Monday and stayed on the scene for four hours.

"When the initial units arrived on the scene, the barn was fully engulfed," Reed said.

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The farmer contacted friends and family members to clear the rubble immediately. He said he hasn't decided whether to rebuild.

Reed said he initially contacted a fire marshal to determine what started the fire, but the farmer's choice to destroy the structures' remnants meant evidence would be gone.

"We will never know the cause of this," Reed said.

No injuries were reported, and the cows were not inside the barn when the fire started.

Fifty firefighters, who were working with 40 firetrucks, saved a milking parlor from being caught in the blaze. Reed estimated the destroyed wood-frame barn was 50 feet by 50 feet.

Reed said front-end loaders spread out hay bales that had fire burning inside. He looked out the window of the ambulance squad building at lunchtime and saw what many motorists on Pa. 997 noticed throughout the day.

"It's still burning right now," Reed said, saying the hay would probably smolder for days.

Meanwhile, the fire chief said the farmer milked cows Tuesday morning despite what happened.

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