WALPOLE, N.H. -- It took about 50 firefighters from at least four departments to battle a blaze that destroyed a two-story barn at Far Hills Farm and killed some chickens Friday morning.
Walpole Fire Chief Dick Hurlburt said he was dispatched to 721 County Road around 10:30 a.m. to find the barn engulfed in flames and the owner attempting to fight the fire with a garden hose. Hurlburt soon declared it a second-alarm fire and fire departments from Westminster and Bellows Falls, Vt., and Keene were dispatched to the scene. The fire was deemed under control around 1 p.m., though its cause is still under investigation.
Hurlburt told the Reformer the fire was likely caused by a wood stove in a section of the barn that served as a farmstand. The chief said another portion of the barn housed chickens and the rest of it was used to store farm equipment. The blaze caved in the structure's second story.
Jan Galloway-Leclerc, who owns the business with her mother, husband and sister, said she was walking to the barn when she noticed the fire. She said the barn was once a dairy and chicken farm but the farmstand was started just a couple of years ago.
"This is kind of devastating," she said over the phone, adding that her family has to meet with the insurance company before figuring out the cost of the damages. "I hope we can rebuild."
Galloway-Leclerc said the farmstand sold provisions such as eggs, maple syrup and firewood.
The charred remains of the barn resembled the wreckage of a large airplane crash, as twisted and mangled pieces of material lay nearly unrecognizable on the ground. Water blasted onto the remains by firefighters added steam to the smoke that billowed into the sky and the smell of burned wood hung heavy in the air.
The heat from the flames was overpowered by the frigid weather and wind chill factor, as some suggested the temperature was below 0.
Firefighters had blocked off a portion of County Road so their efforts at the scene would not be interfered with. By about 1:15 p.m., firefighters were starting to roll up their hoses as a few continued to douse sections of the barn with water. Volunteers brought doughnuts, pizza and coffee for those battling the blaze.
Westminster Fire Chief Cole Streeter told the Reformer his department typically helps cover Walpole and was called to the scene shortly after the Walpole Fire Department. He said he could see the smoke from Westminster.
"There was a lot of fire when we got here," he said.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext.