LAFARGEVILLE — A barn containing 150 cattle was destroyed in a fire Sunday night. None made it out alive.
The fire, at 23878 Route 411, near County Route 15, started just after 8:30 p.m.
Smoke was so thick that some fire equipment was not allowed to drive up Route 411, also known as Plank Road, and some firefighters were ordered to walk to the scene.
The barn is owned by Danny P. and Debbie A. Davis, according to their son, Travis W.
Danny P. Davis discovered the fire after investigating the smell of smoke. He called his son, who was about five minutes away. By time he arrived, the smoke was so heavy that "you could see nothing," Travis Davis said.
The family has owned the farm for about 11 years, and a relative said the farm was their whole life.
Travis Davis said the family had finished milking the cows earlier in the evening and suspected the milk pump may have caused the fire.
Trying to lighten the mood, Travis Davis joked with his family: "I'll bet you that milk is real hot."
The fire was so intense that an orange glow could be seen from 3 miles away.
Mutual aid was requested from departments as far away as the town of Watertown. Crews from Alexandria Bay, Philadelphia, Evans Mills, Brownville and Dexter initially were called to fight the blaze. As flames grew in intensity, more backup was called in from Three Mile Bay, Chaumont and Cape Vincent. More than 25 fire trucks lined the road.
Ladder trucks were provided by the town of Watertown and Alexandria Bay.
The nearest water access was 2 miles away. Tankers would supply water to fight the fire, then ferry back and forth between the fire site and the water access point. Three or four portable pools were being constantly refreshed for the tankers.
Firefighters said that when they arrived at the barn — a 276-foot long, metal structure with red sheet metal siding — all they saw was thick, black smoke. The fire erupted quickly, they said.
An hour and a half after the fire started, flames remained visible from inside the barn and the blaze was producing gray smoke that continued to keep visibility on the road low. Only the front part of the barn remained standing by 10 p.m.
Family members, hugging each other, some crying, watched the fire-fighting efforts from a nearby home.
The cause remains under investigation.