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Peterborough

Fire destroys 18th-century barn

Neighbor wakes sleeping family; farm birds killed

  • Flames shoot through the roof of a 2 1/2-story barn on Old Jaffrey Road Sunday morning. The barn, which was more than 220 years old, was destroyed but a nearby carriage shed had only minor damage and house on the property, which dates to 1792, was not damaged.  <br/>Photo Courtesy Joe Sangermano, Dublin Fire Department

    Flames shoot through the roof of a 2 1/2-story barn on Old Jaffrey Road Sunday morning. The barn, which was more than 220 years old, was destroyed but a nearby carriage shed had only minor damage and house on the property, which dates to 1792, was not damaged.
    Photo Courtesy Joe Sangermano, Dublin Fire Department

  • Flames shoot through the side of a 2 1/2-story barn on Old Jaffrey Road Sunday morning. The barn, which was more than 220 years old, was destroyed but the nearby carriage shed had only minor damage and a house on the property, which dates to 1792, was not damaged. <br/>Photo by Bob Michele

    Flames shoot through the side of a 2 1/2-story barn on Old Jaffrey Road Sunday morning. The barn, which was more than 220 years old, was destroyed but the nearby carriage shed had only minor damage and a house on the property, which dates to 1792, was not damaged.
    Photo by Bob Michele

  • Firefighters use two portable holding tanks to pump water to the fire scene.<br/>Photo courtesy of Joe Sangermano, Dublin Fire Department

    Firefighters use two portable holding tanks to pump water to the fire scene.
    Photo courtesy of Joe Sangermano, Dublin Fire Department

  • Flames shoot through the roof of a 2 1/2-story barn on Old Jaffrey Road Sunday morning. The barn, which was more than 220 years old, was destroyed but a nearby carriage shed had only minor damage and house on the property, which dates to 1792, was not damaged.  <br/>Photo Courtesy Joe Sangermano, Dublin Fire Department
  • Flames shoot through the side of a 2 1/2-story barn on Old Jaffrey Road Sunday morning. The barn, which was more than 220 years old, was destroyed but the nearby carriage shed had only minor damage and a house on the property, which dates to 1792, was not damaged. <br/>Photo by Bob Michele
  • Firefighters use two portable holding tanks to pump water to the fire scene.<br/>Photo courtesy of Joe Sangermano, Dublin Fire Department

PETERBOROUGH — A barn that was more than 200 years old burned to the ground in minutes Sunday morning, but firefighters were able to save a nearby carriage-shed garage and the fire never threatened the main house at 155 Old Jaffrey Rd.

Homeowner Andy Morison said a neighbor, Robert Doane, knocked on his door at about 7 a.m. and alerted the family to the fire. Morison, his wife and their two children were asleep at the time.

“The barn was a good 100 feet away from the house,” Morrison said on Monday. “I called 911 right away. We got out of the house, moved some of the vehicles and just watched helplessly.”

The 21/2-story barn was fully involved when Peterborough firefighters arrived, according to Fire Chief Joseph Lenox.

“The barn was pretty much a total loss when we got there,” Lenox said. “It was still standing, but the volume of fire was overwhelming. Shortly after we arrived, the first floor collapsed. The roof came down shortly after that. We focused on protecting the carriage house and the home.”

Lenox said Peterborough Fire Lt. Brian Shaw suffered second-degree burns to his face while fighting the fire. Shaw was treated and released at the scene.

More than a dozen chickens and some ducks that had been in the barn died in the fire. Morison said a barn cat is still missing as well.

“We’re hoping it was smart enough to get out,” he said.

Goats and sheep on the farm were outside in a pasture and were not harmed.

Lenox said the fire was most likely accidental.

“We don’t know the cause,” Lenox said. “We’re not looking at it as being suspicious.”

About 80 firefighters from 13 towns responded to the property, which is on a section of road beyond the reach of the town’s hydrant system. Tanker trucks brought in water from the area of Noone Falls on Route 202 and firefighters also pumped water from a 26,000 gallon cistern on the Morison property. The fire was declared completely out by 2 p.m.

Lenox said the carriage house, which was about 50 feet away from the barn, had some exterior damage. The house itself, which Morison said dates to 1792, was not damaged.

Morison said the barn, which measured about 30 feet by 50 feet, was being used to store farm equipment and mowing equipment as well as the chickens and ducks. The family also lost some lumber, doors and windows that were being saved for restoration, as well as maple syruping equipment, which they used to produce a few gallons a year as a hobby.

“It was a traditional New England barn, with a milking parlor for cows and stalls for horses. That’s all gone now,” Morison said. “The barn predates the house. It was more than 200 years old. There’s a lot of history there.”

Morison said the Old Jaffrey Road property has been in the Morison family since 1792. He and his family have been living in the home for about four years and have been working to restore the land as a family farm.

“We just had the insurance adjuster over today,” Morison said. “We want to continue with the farm.”

The barn, house and carriage shed were among the Peterborough buildings that appeared in exterior shots of an episode of the TV series “St. Elsewhere” in the 1980s.

Firefighters from Peterborough, Jaffrey, Hancock, Dublin, Francestown, Milford, Keene, Marlborough, Lyndeborough, Rindge, New Ipswich, Temple, Harrisville, Greenfield and Winchendon, Mass., responded to the fire, according to Lenox. Some of them were in the area on their way to a training exercise in Fitzwilliam and were quickly rerouted, he said.

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