MOOERS — About 125 cows died in a barn fire at 400 Davison Road early Monday.
Firefighters were able to save an attached barn and milking parlor.
As midmorning approached, the farmers were forced to destroy some bovines that had escaped the inferno but were badly burned or suffered from severe smoke inhalation.
The farm is owned by father and son Robert and Tony Lamberton. The barn was reduced to a twisted pile of charred rubble Monday morning.
Multiple friends and neighbors gathered to offer support.
A farmhand discovered the fire, Mooers Volunteer Fire Department Fire Chief Dan Dumas said, about an hour after they had finished milking. That employee quickly opened the gates to let the panicked animals out.
"He was able to get a large number of cows out," Dumas said.
About 400 bovines had been inside the 400-foot-long barn when the fire erupted; many of those that got out roamed free as firefighters from 11 departments fought the flames.
The call came in at 3:39 a.m., and the building was already engulfed in flames when Dumas arrived with the second truck just six minutes later.
"There was a large amount of fire showing from one end to the other," he said.
"Our focus was to save the other barn."
At that point, an excavator was used to move debris into what remained of the burning barn to create a separation between the two.
Firefighters kept hoses on the excavator and its operator to keep them wet and cool as protection from the flames and superheated air, Dumas said.
TRUCK STRUCK COW
The combination of wandering livestock, debris and dark conditions provided the potential for injuries, but none were reported.
One firefighter, however, damaged his pickup truck when he struck a cow on his way to the fire, Dumas said.
The wind direction worked in the firefighters' favor, he said, as it helped blow the flames away from the other structures.
Dumas said a crew from West Chazy was stationed to fill tankers at the pumphouse near the closed bridge across the Great Chazy River on East Street in the hamlet of Mooers, just over 4 miles away.
There is a small creek nearby the farm, but the water level was too low to be useful, he said.
It appeared the fire may have been electrical in origin, Dumas said.
Mooers had mutual aid from departments from Champlain, Rouses Point, Altona, Ellenburg Depot, Ellenburg Center, Lyon Mountain, Chazy, West Chazy, Churubusco and Hemmingford, Quebec, Clinton County Dispatch said. Clinton County Car 7 served as coordinator at the fire.
St. Bernard de Lacolle stood by at the Mooers station, as did Champlain-Mooers EMS, Dumas said.
Crews were at work at the station getting the Mooers equipment back in service at 9 a.m.
Dumas said the department's auxiliary did a good job by providing sandwiches, coffee and water at the fire and then putting on a breakfast for the firefighters at the station once the fire was extinguished.
Later Monday morning, Tony Lamberton said they did have insurance. He didn't yet know whether they would rebuild the barn.
This was not the first fire to hit the Lamberton farm.
In August 1999, a blaze that started in a calf barn spread to two other barns and destroyed all three buildings. One other barn and the milking parlor were saved that time.
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