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Plainfield family looks to rebuild after losing animals in barn fire

PLAINFIELD, N.Y.-- Barton Owen and Jane Stetson were driving up Armstrong Road when they noticed their barn was smoking.

Posted: Mar 27, 2018 11:34 PM

PLAINFIELD, N.Y.-- Barton Owen and Jane Stetson were driving up Armstrong Road when they noticed their barn was smoking.

Owen shared the first thought that ran through his mind upon seeing the smolder.

"Please don't let my kids be in the barn," Owen, co-owner of the barn said.

His daughters were safe, but his livestock was in danger.

"The second thought was 'I've got to get the animals out of the barn,'" Owen said. "I went in and I got three or four more animals unhooked and tried to push them out the door, but they wouldn’t go." 

By the time Owen had rescued eight animals, he started to realize his own life was in jeopardy too.

"The side of my head started to catch on fire and my sleeve," Owen said.

"The far end of the barn was on fire, it was a matter of minutes," said Jane Stetson, who owns the barn along with her husband.

After the fire was extinguished, the family found more than 30 of their animals had perished, leaving eight behind.

"It’s a hard way for them to have to go," Stetson said. "I just want everybody to just imagine when your one pet dies, we lost like 40 of them overnight. It’s 40 times the pain.”

"We have two little calves, one's name is Gert," Owen said. "Her mama was Greta and Greta died in the barn fire."

Investigators are still searching for a cause, but the family is speculating it was electrical in nature. 

"We're waiting to hear from the insurance company," Stetson said. "We've got eight animals out there depending on us right now, and they're going to keep growing." 

The family is constructing a temporary shelter for their remaining livestock, on land they originally purchased for a post-retirement hobby.

"Every deployment that I went on, I took a Ziploc bag full of haylage and corn silage with me," Owen said. "Basically, my motivation to do 20 years in the army was so I could retire and be a farmer."

After getting struck by an IED and shrapnel, Owen recovered and returned home to begin his farming venture with Stetson.

"We could, you know, have a decent life and we had our kids, and had all our benefits and he said when he was done doing that, we're going right back to farming," Stetson said. "The best life to have is growing up on a farm."

"Farming's in our blood," Stetson said. "We're going to keep going, it's just a major, major setback."

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