AMES — A town of Canajoharie fire of undermined origin destroyed a significant portion of a large barn at Ridgedale Farm Thursday evening. The fire, battled by numerous fire departments for a number of hours, was the second at the property in two years.
In February 2019 a barn located a short distance from last night’s Marin Road fire was stuck by a severe blaze.
The Ames Volunteer Fire Department was alerted to the fire at 6:38 p.m. “From my house, I could see that it was fully involved at that time,” said Fire Chief Shawn Bowerman.
“The whole center of the barn was engulfed” when he arrived, Bowerman said. The property’s owners had successfully removed all livestock and some hay. Three initial water lines were used to prevent the fire from spreading, including one that constantly sprayed water on the blaze.
The Canajoharie Volunteer Fire Department attacked the fire from the back of the barn, with the Fort Plain Volunteer Fire Department utilizing the county pond on Old Sharon Road for water.
Farmhand Daniel Lamphere helped remove livestock prior to the arrival of the fire departments. “The barn started in the middle,” he said. “It went up the walls and on the haymow. I rushed in and started pulling the bulls out.” He also helped remove the farm’s cows.
Mutual aid tankers were first requested from the Rural Grove, Sharon Springs and South Minden volunteer fire departments, with additional tankers being called in from the Fort Plain, Ephratah and Carlisle fire departments. Cherry Valley, Canajoharie, Rural Grove, South Minden and Mohawk fire departments provided additional manpower.
Also on scene was GAVAC, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department, including Sheriff Jeffery Smith, the Montgomery County fire coordinator, and the Montgomery County Emergency Management team, including the coordinator and several deputy coordinators.
“We were fortunate enough that we were able to save the two ends of the barn, but significant damage took place to the center of the barn,” Bowerman said. “The biggest challenge at first was the direction of the wind. It was blowing the smoke directly toward the apparatus and firefighters. That was a challenge we had to overcome, but as the night went on, it did clear out.”
Responders were on scene until about 3:30 a.m., with Montgomery County providing an excavator to remove a portion of the damaged structure along with burning hay from inside it. Bowerman said the cause of the fire has not been determined. The extent of the damage has made it difficult to pinpoint a cause, he said.
“All the departments on scene worked very well together and I don’t think the outcome could’ve been much better than it was,” Bowerman said.