Cows walk in front of the fire on their way to the barn.
ADAMS, Mass. — An early morning fire at Ziemba's farm on Walling Road destroyed a hay-filled barn complex.
Firefighters from nearly a dozen fire departments spent hours containing the blaze and preventing it from spreading to adjacent buildings and the farmhouse at Broadlawn Farm.
"The back barn was fully involved when we got here and the owners were trying to get the cows out," said Fire Chief John Pansecchi during a pause around 5:30 a.m., nearly three hours after the fire was first reported. "By the time we got here [the barns] were gone."
Pansecchi believed all or most of the dairy cattle were saved but the barn was also filled with hay that has continued to smolder and burn. He expected it would take hours to break up the bales and said they were looking for an excavator to tear the ruins apart. The cause is suspected to be electrical but he said it would be some time before it could be investigated.
In addition to the Adams Fire Department and Forest Wardens, tankers and equipment also came from Cheshire, Clarksburg, Dalton, Florida, Lanesborough, Windsor and Savoy, and Stamford, Vt. The Adams Ambulance Service and Northern Berkshire EMS were also on the scene. Trucks and vehicles lined narrow Walling Road by the farm. Readsboro, Vt., sent a tanker to standby in Stamford — the only one immediately available to cover North County.
The fire chief wasn't sure if the barn was two or three segments. It was a long structure behind the milking barn with grain storage in another area at one end.
"They've got a grain storage at the other end we're trying to protect," he said. "The immediate concern was the milking house and the grain and this barn that hasn't burned."
Tankers were filling up at water source at the bottom of Walling and East Mountain roads and a hydrant on East Road. Two portable tanks, or pools, were set up in the farm's driveway and tankers backed up to fill them and then left to replenish. That had been going on for hours and was expected to continue for some time.
"We've got probably 2,000 gallons in our trucks and it doesn't take long to go through that," Pansecchi said. Crews were looking for a third water source because using the hydrant had drained the water tank it was connected to by nearly half. "It's tough because you're frustrated for water to get here."
As firefighters continued to douse the blaze, the cows made their way to the milking barn, silhouetted against the flames. The farm has about 300 cows and has been in the family for almost a century.
"We're going to be here for a while. We have to break up all the bales of hay ... now it's going to be labor-intensive," Pansecchi said. "These guys did a great job, everybody worked well here."
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