Ghent barns go up in flames

GHENT–Wind-driven flames claimed three structures, multiple vehicles and some piglets and chickens on the Dykeman Farm, 104 Quinn Lane, the night of May 31.

County 911 dispatched Ghent firefighters and the Chatham Rescue Squad to the scene at 9:06 p.m.

A neighbor on County Route 22 reported the fire after seeing smoke that the neighbor initially thought was coming from a building at Art Omi, about a quarter mile away from the Dykeman place through the woods, according to Ghent Fire Chief Dan Lamarre.

The chief said he arrived at 3 minutes after the call went out to find a 50-by-100-foot, 2-story wooden barn built in the late 1800s or early 1900s fully engulfed and ready to collapse.

The barn was used for storage by owner Tom Dykeman and contained a couple of piglets and about 40 chickens, all of which perished in the blaze. “There was no saving it,” said Chief Lamarre.

When the first barn fell in, flying embers carried by a 30-mph wind out of the northwest ignited a second barn, this one 40 by 100 feet, about 30 feet away from the first.

The second barn was a repair shop and equipment storage space used by local contractor Andrew Witherell, a friend of Mr. Dykeman’s, who also had other pigs, cattle and ducks on the farm. Those animals were not hurt, said the chief.

A third building, described by the chief as a 20-by-20-foot “little pig stall” also burned.

Farm equipment, all Mr. Witherell’s construction equipment, multiple vehicles, including a mud truck, a 1936 Chevrolet, a 36-foot fifth-wheel camper, ATVs and snowmobiles were all destroyed. “He lost everything,” the chief said of Mr. Witherell.

Mutual aid was summoned from West Ghent, Claverack, Stockport, Tri-Village, Niverville and Spencertown fire companies.

About 100 firefighters in all were on the scene. No one was hurt.

The fires were battled strictly from the exterior “due to the fire load,” and water was trucked in from a pond at Gallagher’s Farm about a half-mile away and from a dry hydrant at the intersection of Talerico and Spook Rock roads about a mile away, Chief Lamarre said.

Firefighters also had to contend with a small brush fire about 200 feet away from the structures and received reports from neighbors up to a mile away about embers landing in their yards.

A majority of the fire companies left the fire scene at about 4:30 a.m. June 1, while Ghent firefighters remained there overnight to preserve the scene for investigators from the County Cause and Origin Team.

Chief Lamarre said that while nothing has been ruled out, the fire does not appear suspicious.

All the structures had electrical service and New York State Electric and Gas was called in to shut down the power when a pole caught fire.

Personnel from the Columbia County EMS Office, the Columbia County Fire Coordinators Office and State Police were also on the scene.

To contact Diane Valden email .

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