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Fire destroys Harrisville barn, kills chickens


HARRISVILLE — A fire Friday afternoon destroyed a 100-year-old barn, killing more than a dozen small animals, on South Bonaparte Road in the town of Diana.

Five fire departments were called to fight the blaze at 13869 S. Bonaparte Road, which started between 2 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., said Robert J. Bernhard, who lives at the property with his wife, Heather, their children and her mother, Colleen King.

Firetrucks and first responders from Carthage, Croghan, Harrisville, Natural Bridge and Star Lake soon converged on the scene, lining both sides of the narrow dirt road, but the flames had quickly engulfed the barn.

“It’s a total loss,” Harrisville Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jason Fuller said. He noted that water tankers were called in for extra water to fight the strong flames.

Firefighters contained the fire to the barn and a small attached shed, saving the family’s home and two other structures on the property. As the firefighters battled the blaze, there were several small explosions, possibly caused by propane tanks.

Mr. Bernhard said a tractor, an all-terrain vehicle, chain saws and other equipment in the barn could not be saved. It was unclear whether the barn was insured.

“Everyone is safe; that’s all that matters,” Mr. Bernhard said.

Though nobody was injured, Mr. Bernhard said 14 chickens, three ducks and a goat were lost in the fire. One goat escaped the barn with only minor burns.

No official cause of the fire had been determined as of Friday night, but Mr. Bernhard said he suspects the two heat lamps in a chicken coop inside the barn are to blame.

Mr. Bernhard first heard of the fire from a neighbor, who called him at work after calling the fire department. He said he then told his wife and children to leave the house and go to a neighbor’s.

He said if the fire had spread to nearby trees, their house — which is less than 100 feet from the barn — could have caught fire as well.

The property had been in the family for years, Mr. Bernhard said, and they had begun using it as a working farm only recently. “We had just started to bring it back,” he said.

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