Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / Staff Photo
Firefighters look for hot spots after extinguishing a fire that destroyed a storage barn on Route 12 in Berlin on Thursday afternoon. Departments from Berlin, Montpelier, Northfield, Barre Town and East Montpelier fought the blaze.
BERLIN — A noontime fire that started on the hay-strewn floor of a large barn at the Herring Family Farm on Thursday made short work of the Quonset hut-style structure.
By 12:30 p.m. the walls at both ends of the barn were gone and its contents destroyed. Though its arched metal roof was still standing, firefighters said what remained of the still-smoking building was not structurally sound.
It could have been worse, according to David Lockerby, who works at the farm and spent the last three days moving 600 bales of hay from the barn to the one that was still standing a few yards away.
According to Lockerby, the fire started some time after he’d loaded the last eight bales into his 1994 Ford pickup, which was parked in the barn.
Lockerby said he’s not sure how it happened, but he is sure what he saw when he spotted the fire that was reported moments before noon.
“The ground was on fire,” he said.
It might have been heat from the muffler of his truck or a spark from the idling vehicle, but Lockerby said something ignited hay on the floor of the old storage barn.
“It spread fast,” he said, noting there would have been more fuel for the flames if he hadn’t moved 150 bales of hay that morning.
Berlin firefighters arrived moments after noon and were quickly joined by volunteers from Northfield, Barre Town and East Montpelier, as well as firefighters from Montpelier.
The fire was under control in 20 minutes, though members of the Berlin crew didn’t clear the scene until shortly after 2 p.m.
Fortunately the fire didn’t spread to the nearby barn where Lockerby had moved the hay and where farm owner Mike Herring said he raises pigs and turkeys.
Herring said he let the pigs out when he saw the fire and moved his turkeys to the far end of the barn as a precaution.
He said no animals were hurt, though the old storage barn and its contents — mostly tools and Lockerby’s truck — were destroyed.
“I’m not having a great day,” he said.
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