TURNER — Derek McLaughlin woke Tuesday to the sound of igniting ammunition and the glow as his family’s barn burned.
“He looked out the window, and the barn was totally engulfed,” his mother, Bonnie McLaughlin, said. “So, he called us, and he called the Fire Department.”
That was just after 3 a.m.
Minutes later, when firefighters from four towns began arriving at 335 Snell Hill Road, there was little to be done except to make sure the fire didn’t spread to outbuildings, to the mobile home where Derek McLaughlin lives or the house where his parents reside.
“When we arrived, there was nothing but a shell left,” Ross Gagne, Turner’s assistant fire chief, said. “It had been burning for quite a while.”
The exterior of the two-bay barn was gone. All that was left of the structure were its beams. About 25 firefighters from four towns — Turner, Leeds, Greene and Buckfield — assisted in dousing the hilltop fire.
However, damage will be well into the “tens of thousands of dollars,” Bonnie McLaughlin said.
Among the lost contents were a tractor, two snowblowers, power tools, freezers full of meat and vacuum pumps used to harvest maple syrup.
All can be replaced, McLaughlin said.
No animals were harmed.
Officials don’t yet know how the fire started. It was difficult to fight, Gagne said. The barn sat at the top of a sometimes-steep, one-lane road. Firetrucks formed a relay to carry water up the hill.
They had no hope of saving the barn, though. Once they began soaking the barn, the remaining beams toppled over, Gagne said.
“It’s like were were called too late,” he said.