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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, July 15, 2010

Hay barn burns hot and hellaciously

By Anne Hayden

GUILDERLAND CENTER — A barn full of hay in rural southern Guilderland caught fire on Tuesday, causing flames so intense they blistered the siding of a house across Stone Road from the barn.

Nine local departments were involved in battling the blaze that took over eight hours to quell and was still puffing the next day.

The Guilderland Center Fire Department received the call around 3:10 p.m., and Chief David Dodge, the first to arrive on the scene, reported that the fire was “fully involved,” according to Sean Maguire, the public information officer of the town of Guilderland Fire Chiefs Association.

“Basically, the entire structure was engulfed in flames,” Maguire said. Since the barn, at 31 Stone Road, was constructed entirely of wood, and filled with dry hay, the fire spread quickly and generated a lot of heat, said Maguire.

The heat was so intense that fire departments could not use the fire hydrant located closest to the barn, said Donald Albright, director of the Guilderland Center Fire Department.

“The air around the hydrant was just too hot and we would have burned up trying to get to it,” Albright said. The intense heat combined with the wind resulted in heat damage to a house across the street from the barn — the vinyl siding melted, said Maguire.

There were no people or animals in the barn, Maguire said, but the amount of hay added to the fire load. The property is owned by Joseph Kernozek, who could not be reached for comment. After the fire was extinguished, fire departments stayed on the scene to spray water on the hay to alleviate “hot spots,” or pockets of flame that could have formed under the surface of the material.

Albright said GCFD was on Stone Road until 11:30 on Tuesday night, and made several visits to the scene on Wednesday to make sure the fire was completely extinguished.

“It’s still puffing a little bit, but there are no flames,” said Albright on Wednesday afternoon. The barn was a complete loss, said Maguire.

The Guilderland Center Fire Department received mutual aid assistance from the Altamont, Fort Hunter, Guilderland, McKownville, North Bethlehem, Voorheesville, Knox, and New Salem fire departments. Guilderland Emergency Services and the Altamont Rescue Squad also responded.

“Chief Dodge was very proactive in calling for back-up to make sure the fire was under control,” Maguire said. The cause of the fire is unknown, but is being investigated by the Guilderland Fire Investigation Bureau.

Albright, a member of the bureau, said it is likely the cause of the blaze will remained undetermined, because there is “hardly anything left to look at,” in the wreckage. He said he did not have reason to believe the cause suspicious, and the fire could have been the result of fresh hay combusting due to the hot weather conditions.

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