Taken from The Republican American, Waterbury, CT, Wednesday February 17, 2016, By Paul Singley
Cornwall, CT Barn Total Loss
Fire Kills 191 Piglets, 18 Sows, but horses saved
Cornwall – Flames that whipped through the main barn at Maple Hill Farm early Tuesday claimed 191 piglets and 18 sows, but spared eight Belgian draft horses that were set free as choking smoke filled their stalls.
Richard and Gail Dolan raced out to their barn, at 12 Cherry Hill Road, after calling for help at 2:19 a.m.
They saw flickering from electrical arcing at the front of the barn as sparks ignited older, dry timbers.
Flames spread quickly after reaching the fuel of 300 hay bales stored inside the second floor loft.
The Dolans were able to reach the horses, and several other large animals, but thick smoke drove them back before they could reach the pigs.
Some of the pigs were in farrowing crates with their litters of piglets. The crates are used to hold a female pig in a small area so she doesn’t roll over on her young.
Fire Marshal Stanley MacMillan said the animals likely died of smoke inhalation as the thick smoke banked down before the flames reached them. He said the animals made no sounds.
The barn was a total loss, he said. The fire was ruled accidental but the cause is unknown and may remain undetermined. Local and state fire investigators sifted through the rubble studying all possible causes, but focused their attention on the area of the barn where the Dolans first saw flames licking at the outside wall, near the barn’s main electrical connections.
Portions of the 100 foot by 40 foot two-story barn that sat just behind a maple-tree-lined street dated back to the early 1800’s when it was part of a dairy farm near the famed bucolic Cream Hill area of town. Recent additions were added as the Dolans increased their pig breeding operation to meet a growing demand.
The Dolans also have a newer barn on the property, which also houses pigs.
Firefighters who arrived in trucks parked just down the hill at the Cornwall Firehouse were on scene within 10 minutes, but were hampered by ice on the road and equipment. Trucks trying to reach the location couldn’t go faster than 35 miles per hour, Fire Chief Fred Scoville said.
Mutual aid arrived from Goshen, Warren, Kent, Sharon and Canaan. Fire-fighters contributed to a tanker shuttle to bring water to the area which isn’t served by hydrants. Crews were on standby in Lakeville in the event of another call.
“We want to express our deep appreciation to all those who came to help us,”Scoville said. Firefighters and equipment from neighboring towns left the scene by 10 a.m. but Cornwall’s crews remained until noon.