Dozens of animals perish in Fort Ann fire

September 18, 2017 12:26 AM

FORT ANN -- “I cut the wires and went in to see if I could get the gates open,” Richard Burch said. “But they were all laying down. The smoke was so bad.”

Burch said a fire at his farm on Dewey’s Bridge Road in Fort Ann Sunday afternoon killed about 90 pigs and about 30 cows.

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He said he saw a bale of hay on fire before the blaze spread, burning two of his barns to the ground.

“I'm sorry I couldn't get my pigs out, calves,” Burch said.

Burch walked through the damage Sunday evening as he recalled starting the farm with his wife, Lucy about 30 years ago.

“I'm 71 years old how am I going to get started again,” Burch said. “I can go get a job somewhere but I've always been the boss.”

Burch is not sure how he will be able to afford the cost of rebuilding his farm.

“I didn't have no insurance I had too many financial problems over the years,” Burch said.

He believes the fire caused about $1 million worth of damage.

Fort Ann Fire Chief Kevin Lovely said about a dozen different fire departments responded to the scene just after 4 pm Sunday.

He said four firefighters had to be treated for heat injuries.

“Upon arrival of the first barn that was engulfed was all fire, there was no visible barn,” Lovely said. “The second barn the fire was moving rapidly across the ridge of the roof.”

Without fire hydrants nearby, firefighters were forced to haul in loads of water.

Meanwhile, Burch is hoping for the government's help - something he says he was seeking before the fire.

“I called Donald Trump,” Burch said. “My wife emailed him, but we never heard back from him,” Burch said.

Burch is not sure what the future holds for his farm but he plans to take things one day at a time.

“I might cry before the nights over but it ain't going to do much good,” Burch said.

Burch also lost his truck and tractor in the fire.

Fort Ann fire officials said the official cause of the fire is still under investigation.

All four injured firefighters are expected to be fine. 


WNYT Staff

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