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Cause of Trenton barn fire, that killed nearly 200 cows, was electrical

The owners of a second generation dairy farm in Trenton say they don't know if they'll rebuild after a fire destroyed their barn and killed nearly 200 cows.

Posted: Jan 7, 2019 7:26 PM
Updated: Jan 7, 2019 7:40 PM

TRENTON, NY -- The owners of a second generation dairy farm in Trenton say they don't know if they'll rebuild after a fire destroyed their barn and killed nearly 200 cows.

Kevin Kalk, fire chief of the Trenton Joint Fire District, said ten different departments worked to contain the fire on Whittaker Road on Sunday. Members of the Trenton district were back on Monday using excavators to dig through hotspots that were still smoldering.

Out of 200 cows only two survived. No one else was inside the barn at the time when the flames erupted just after 11 a.m. According to Kalk, the New York State Fire Prevention and Control said the fire started as a result of a malfunction in a tractor located in the barn, that was hooked up to a manure spreader.

"Passerby's noticed it, employees that live up the road tried gaining entry," Kalk said. "Due to the well advancement of the fire, we were not able to gain access into and get any of the animals out."

Kalk said the fire was challenging because of the weather conditions.

"The winds had a pretty good wind speed, which the winds were coming out of the west," he said. "They pushed the fire right down to the barn, which hampered our efforts. Upon the arrival we did have partial structural collapse on the one end and where the fire did start so that caused the tin roof to collapse trapping in the heat into the building."

Kalk said those conditions made it more difficult to get the fire under control along with the freezing temperatures which created ice where crews were working. Kalk said firefighters were trying to contain the fire for about eight hours on Sunday. He said the department will be back in the next few days to continue to put out the smolder.

The farm is owned by Terry Jones and Debbie Jones. Debbie Jones said her husband took over the farm for his grandfather 51 years ago. She said her husband's grandfather's farm burnt down in 1966. Jones said her husband helped to rebuild that farm in 1968 and took it over when he was just 19-years-old. She said he works seven days a week, 12 hours a day, 365 days a year. Jones said the past 24 hours have difficult for her husband, the family and the workers, but the community support has been overwhelming.

"Within a half hour the streets were lined up with vehicles and people just brought food in and offered to help, manual labor," she said.

The couple's daughter, Maryssa Dolen, added that firefighters have been working at all hours to get the fire under control.

"These firemen, they're volunteers and they were here for six, seven hours just nonstop," she said. "It's just, it's unbelievable the work that they've done."

Debbie Jones said she and her husband aren't sure if they will rebuild the farm. But despite their losses Jones said her family is grateful for everyone who has come to help.

"Just thank you to everyone in the community for the overwhelming support that they've given us over the past 24 hours," she said. "And the volunteer firemen I can not thank them enough, I don't even know half the people that were here to thank. So other than that thank you to everybody."

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