Neighbors help save gear from barn fire

WATERTOWN TWP.-Firefighters from five area fire departments worked for several hours Saturday to control a fire that destroyed a large barn at 1145 Klinger Road in Watertown Township in Washington County.

The barn was part of a farm owned by Tim Strahler, who purchased the farm in 1967 and has renovated and expanded the barn several times, including replacing part of it following the derecho storm last summer.

When his wife, Laurie, heard the barn was on fire her first fear was that a calf being raised for the Washington County Fair was trapped inside. The calf, being raised by granddaughter Anna Strahler, made it out safely. Due to the efforts of several neighbors, several pieces of farm equipment parked alongside the barn was also saved, she said.

“The first face I saw was Hugh Arnold’s” said Laurie Strahler. “He and other neighbors immediately started helping-the flames were shooting out the roof by the time they started moving stuff.”

Tim Strahler was in the Warren area and didn’t know of the fire until he reached Watertown. He only knew it was one of his buildings when he got closer to the top of the hill where the farm is located. A business called the Laminate Shop is also located on the farm.

Firefighters from Watertown, Lowell, Barlow, Beverly, and Warren worked on extinguishing the fire. Family and neighbors were able to remove some of the farming equipment from the smoldering fire, including two hay wagons, a bulldozer and a Bobcat.

Several other pieces of farm equipment could not be retrieved. Part of the barn was full of hay that was baled about a month ago. Strahler said the barn was insured.

Klinger Road was closed to traffic for much of the afternoon.

Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks said the cause of the fire was not known Saturday afternoon and would be investigated by the responding fire departments.

Watertown Fire Chief Gary Quimby said some bales of hay that were stored inside the barn continued to smolder Sunday.

“We probably used 25,000 gallons of water on it, but hay seems to burn forever,” he said.