Friday, February 19, 2010

Amish Barn Fire

40 head of livestock survive montour county fireBy Karen Blackledge The Daily Item

WASHINGTONVILLE — Curious Holsteins milled around fire trucks as firefighters from 16 Valley companies battled a blaze that destroyed a barn and woodshop Thursday morning in Montour County. A number of the 40 head of cattle, draft horses and colts were loose, then rescued, as the fire raged, according to firefighters working at the scene off Strawberry Ridge Road in Derry Township. Those animals that weren’t loose — such as the horses hitched to a farm implement not far from the two-story barn — became increasingly agitated as the flames, smoke and sparks engulfed the 150-foot by 100-foot structure. Fire companies from Columbia, Montour and Northumberland counties were summoned to the 9:33 a.m. blaze that began after fierce wind carried embers from the burning woodworking shop to the barn.
Cats and chickens died in the fire, but members of the Amish community and firefighters rescued many young cows and work horses. Woodshop owner John Z. Stoltzfus said he believes an overheated woodburner started the blaze. “I was trying to operate the shop,” he said of the 20- to 25-year-old building that hadn’t been in operation for some time. He had left the one-story building for about 30 minutes before the fire broke out. “I saw the smoke,” he said. “The stove got too hot.” As firefighters had his woodshop blaze nearly under control, someone yelled that the barn, more than 100 yards away, had caught fire. Hay and straw fed the barn fire’s flames, and fire chiefs ordered volunteers out of the building.
Numerous tankers lined Strawberry Ridge Road, along with portable water tanks. The closest refill locations were Montour PPL Plant hydrants.
“We’re talking a mile or two away,” Valley Township Fire Chief Mike Kull said. “They have to fill up with water, drive back and pump it into the portable tanks.”
Word of the blaze spread quickly, drawing numerous neighbors by horse and buggy.
Neighbor John M. Stoltzfus, who isn’t related to the family, was among those neighbors arriving by horse and buggy.


  1. Prayers go out to for the Stolzfus family. Thank God no one was hurt!

  2. Sorry to hear about their loss. Glad no one was hurt.

  3. Dear An Amish Table,

    I would be interested in using the photo above of the burning barn in an Amish advertisement for a product called STOP-FYRE ( The ad is due 9/16/11. We are interested in promoting fire safety. If this is your photo and you get this message, please email me at or call (507) 367-8787. Thank you very much.