Fire Destroys Family Barn in Clinton County

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It took just minutes for a fire to destroy the livelihood of one Clinton County family. Flames ripped through their barn early Wednesday morning, near the intersection of Taft and Lowell, just southwest of St. Johns.

Dozens of bales of hay helped fuel the fire inside what used to be a large barn. A neighbor saw the fire as he was driving to work and called 911. Mark Reck said, "They're really good people and I really feel sorry for their loss."

The family lost tens of thousands of dollars worth of brand new farm equipment , including a tractor and balers. They also lost 70 bales of hay stored in the barn. It’s used to feed their horses, cattle, and other animals. Kristi Swanchara, Cousin of family, "They do rabbits, goats, horses, cows, they have done pigs, too. I mean they're just a 4H family that lost everything."

The St. Johns Fire Chief says crews had to bring in excavators to put out the fire in the hay. If not, the hay would burn for months. Chief Dean Mazzolini says, when crews arrived, "The barn was fully engulfed in flames. There's not a whole lot you can do at that point, but save the exposures and try to keep the horses that were outside away from the barn."

Some sheep and rabbits are believed to have died in the fire. Now the family needs help to feed those that survived. Said Swanchara, "The big need is the hay because they just lost everything for the winter. They need hay, they need tack, halters, sleeve ropes, they don't have any of that now, water troughs, I mean everything is gone."

The family does not have insurance. If you’d like to help, call the St. John’s Fire Department,