PERU – The cause of a fire last week that destroyed a farmhouse and barn and most of the contents will never be found, a state fire investigator said Tuesday.

Richard Shepard with the Office of the State Fire Marshal said the damage was so extensive that a cause will remain undetermined.

The home and barn of Maurice and Marie Lacroix Jr. went up in flames at 11:30 p.m. Sept. 22.

Marie saw flames coming from an empty area in the barn where more than 5,000 bales of hay were stored. Fire Department officials had originally thought that the fire may have started by combustion in the hay.

The barn is detached from the mid-19th century farmhouse that had been purchased by Maurice Jr.’s father in the mid-1940s.

The couple’s dog and several cats escaped without injury. Seven head of Hereford cattle were grazing in a nearby field.

Maurice Jr. estimated the value of the loss at nearly $1 million. In addition to the house, barn and hay, 10 cords of firewood, a vintage World War II Jeep that had been owned by Maurice Sr. who was a World War II veteran, an antique tractor, antique sleigh, and numerous other antiques stored in the house were destroyed, along with a windmill and solar panels.

The property was not covered by insurance.

The couple are staying in a rustic A-frame on the property. The Lacroixs said late last week that they plan to rebuild.

More than 40 firefighters from seven area fire departments fought the blaze.

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