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Huge Spafford barn fire is ‘no reason to quit’

Fesko Dairy picking up the pieces following fire at main complex

A huge fire consumed the main barn complex at Fesko Dairy in Spafford last Thursday, July 19. The cause of the fire remains unknown. More than 10 local fire departments responded to the blaze while passersby stopped their cars on Route 41 to help owner Chris Fesko and her employees save animals form the barn.

A huge fire consumed the main barn complex at Fesko Dairy in Spafford last Thursday, July 19. The cause of the fire remains unknown. More than 10 local fire departments responded to the blaze while passersby stopped their cars on Route 41 to help owner Chris Fesko and her employees save animals form the barn.

photo

courtesy Chris Fesko

Just a few hours before a fire consumed the large gable roof barn, dairy owner Chris Fesko flew over her property to take aerial photos. This is how the farm looked prior to the July 19 blaze.

— A mere six hours before fire erupted on Thursday, July 19, at Fesko Dairy on East Lake Road in Spafford, owner Chris Fesko was high above the property taking aerial photos of the farm.

No one was the wiser that by 3 p.m. a blaze would begin burning through the nearly 100-year-old farm’s main dairy complex, taking the lives of 40 yearling calves and three pigs.

“We did manage to save 18 [calves], but two of those had to be euthanized,” Fesko said. The calves had yet to be weaned.

Though the cows did not become hyper or disoriented from the blaze, she said two of the adult cows were believed to suffer from smoke inhalation.

Fesko said she was reminded of the inherent good in all of us as people pulled up along the side of Route 41 to help pull calves from the growing inferno. In all, there were six people inside the barn saving calves before the rescue was called off and farm employees fell to the ground, collapsing from the heat and smoke.

“We had hired men and employees collapsed on the lawn. I collapsed in the middle of [Route] 41,” Fesko said, adding that she was picked up and carried out of the road by one of the people who had stopped to help. “It went up so fast.”

An outpouring of support from friends and neighbors was further confirmed with a large order placed with Lasca’s Restaurant in Auburn, where enough food was purchased to feed the firefighters and others coming to Fesko’s aid.

“Now that it’s over with and there’s nothing you can do about it ...” Fesko’s voice trailed off. “How quickly we turn back into good people.”

Area farmers offered to take the remaining calves to raise until they have a home again on the farm. Fesko said farmers as far away as Norwich were calling to offer support and homes to the adult cows should she need to move them from the farm.

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