Animals perish in early morning fire on Old Jay Hill Road

JAY — Raymond Fleury had just brought four of his cows into his barn to milk early Thursday morning when he smelled smoke.

Fire takes barn, cows, chickens and cat
Ann Bryant/Sun Journal

Firefighters douse the charred timbers of a barn early Thursday morning on the Old Jay Hill Road in North Jay.  Some animals perished in the fire, which was ignited when a light bulb was placed too close to hay.

Firefighter cools down
Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

Jay firefighter Curtis Brooks, center, and Livermore Falls firefighter James Butler behind him, cool off in 80-degree heat after a fast-moving fire on Thursday morning that destroyed a three-story barn and livestock at 347 Old Jay Hill Road in North Jay.

Horse survives
Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

A horse nervously watches firefighters and an excavator work a quarter mile away after escaping into the field from a burning barn early Thursday morning at 347 Old Jay Hill Road. Four cows, a sheep, 20 chickens and a cat are believed to have perished in the blaze.

Barn destroyed by blaze
Ann Bryant/Sun Journal

Firefighters tackle a barn fire early Thursday morning on the Old Jay Hill Road in North Jay.  Some animals perished in the fire.

Old Jay Hill Road barn destroyed in blaze
Ann Bryant/Sun Journal

Firefighters tackle a barn fire early Thursday morning on the Old Jay Hill Road in North Jay.  Some animals perished in the quick destructive fire.

In the few minutes it took to call for help, the historic wood-frame barn at 347 Old Jay Hill Road was burning, quickly igniting 2,000 bales of newly-harvested hay and killing cows, sheep and chickens, Jay Assistant Fire Chief Mike Booker said.

“At 5:55 a.m. Ray said he noticed smoke. He ran to call for help and he really got out just in time,” Booker said.

When the first firetrucks arrived at 6:15 a.m., the building was fully engulfed in flames, he said.

Four milking cows, 20 chickens, one sheep and a cat perished in the blaze. Horses and other animals on the working farm had escaped to the field between the barn and nearby Route 4, Booker said.

Thirty-five firefighters from Jay, Livermore, Livermore Falls, Wilton and East Dixfield responded to the blaze but there was no way the structure could be saved, he said. The farm and homestead date back to the 1800s.

There was adequate access to water from a nearby fire hydrant but Booker said the biggest problem was keeping everyone hydrated in the heat and humidity. There were no injuries reported, he said.

Edward Hastings, an inspector from the Maine State Fire Marshal's Office, was at the scene and determined the fire was accidental and caused by a light-bulb too close to the fresh hay.

The loss of livestock and property is estimated at $50,000. The building was not insured, Booker said.

Farmers from across the region are offering hay, feed and space to board Fleury's remaining animals, according to Kathy Beauregard at the Washburn-Norlands Living History Center in Livermore where Fleury has been a longtime employee and is now the historic farm manager.

Norlands is also offering to help in any way it can, she said. In 2008, Fleury took in many of Norlands' farm animals when a fire destroyed its barn.

“Ray has done so much to bring the Norlands farm back online. He has a long history here and he is part of the heartbeat of the center,” she said.

Fleury, who lives with his daughter, was not available for comment Thursday. Neighbors watching the fire said he had been haying the surrounding fields and had recently put the crop in the barn.

Sun Journal staff writers Ann Bryant and Terry Karkos contributed to this story.

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Comments

 's picture

Three of the cows disappeared

Three of the cows disappeared during the fire, one returned tonight at 6:30pm. The cow was burned but I didn't ask how bad. The other two are still missing.

 's picture

Tragedy

My heart breaks for this family, especially after reading the previous post about losing his wife to cancer. He has had more than his share of disappointment and heartache. I'm sure he's devastated losing his animals like that.
I see the barn is uninsured. I don't have much, but I would very much like to contribute to this family being able to restore their farm animals. Will the Sun Journal please post an avenue to do this? Perhaps it's too soon. But I hope this gentleman knows there are people who really do care.

 's picture

Not sure if they are doing

Not sure if they are doing anything but I would talk to the Norlands/Washburn Living History Center in Livermore. The community and surrounding towns have been more than generous in the past with our family and giving help where its needed and I'm sure things will be restored.

 's picture

This was my brother-in-laws

This was my brother-in-laws barn. It was his and my sisters dream to restore the house and barn to its original 1800's state. My sister passed from cancer in 2006 and Ray has been taking care of the barn and house by himself since then. Before they purchased it the woman who owned it had lived in since birth, her parents had orignally built the house. I think the date was 1839? So sorry about the animals Ray, glad the horses and cows made it out though.

 's picture

Sorry

Am so sorry for this family. Really hope Mr. Fleury can rebuild a barn or some kind of a shelter before Winter. He has put so much hard work and money into this place. The animals always looked well cared for and was a joy to see when out to pasture.

 's picture

How sad...

for the owner and the animals. Lightbulb or no lightbulb, this heat wave can cause a lot of smoldering in hay stacks and ignite without assistance....

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