Fire destroys barn in Beaver County

Workers clear burnt hay and straw off of what remains of a barn at Yeck Farms in Freedom, Pa. (Rachel Wagoner photo)

FREEDOM, Pa. – A fire destroyed a barn Friday morning at Yeck Farms in Beaver County.

All that remained after fire crews put the out the blaze was the cinder block foundation and the floor.

No people or animals were injured, although there were about two dozen dairy heifers in the basement when the fire broke out.

Losing a barn is tough for any farm family, but this building was extra special to the Yecks. It was built for their son, Tim, who died in a farm accident in 1986 when he was 10 years old, said Roy Yeck, who owns the farm with his wife Vicky.

“We always said this was his barn,” Yeck said.

The fire was called in to 911 dispatchers around 9:30 a.m., said Mike Guraly, Pine Run Fire Chief. 

The Yecks were going about their morning chores. Yeck’s son Andy was picking sweet corn and he was taking a round bale to the basement of the barn to feed the heifers. That’s when he saw smoke coming from the top of the barn.

“I had just been past the barn 10 minutes before,” Yeck said, and there was no smoke then.

They called 911 and tried to get the fire under control with a garden hose, he said. But it was no use. Yeck got the heifers out of the barn to safety. 

More than a dozen fire departments from two counties responded, trucking in water and providing extra manpower, Guraly said. Neighbors and family brought in heavy equipment to help move the debris, Guraly said.

Fire departments left the scene around 3:30 p.m.

There were about 800 square hay bales and 1,000 straw bales stored in the barn, Yeck said. The cause of the fire is not yet known, but Yeck said the smoke was initially coming out of the barn where the electricity runs in.

Fortunately the fire did not spread to any other buildings, including the larger wooden barn nearby that houses the rest of the cattle and the milking parlor.

Along with milking a small dairy herd, the Yecks grow and sell sweet corn and other produce from the farm in the summer and have a pumpkin patch and hayrides in the fall. They also sell live Christmas trees.

The barn was built in 1986, the winter after they lost their son Tim.

They had started to build the barn while Tim was alive, getting the foundation up. After he died in July 1986, the barn building project got put on hold, Yeck said.

“We debated whether to even finish it,” Yeck said.

They decided to continue on, though, figuring it was what Tim would have wanted. They were waiting on the building materials in December 1986 when Yeck’s brother came to him.

His brother told Yeck he’d gotten the needed materials and gathered a crew of friends and neighbors to raise the barn. They got most of it up in one day, Yeck said.


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