Fire destroys Portage County barn

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Portage County barn fire
Barn fire at the Thompson family farm in Portage County. (Submitted photo)

RAVENNA, Ohio — Some 14 fire departments battled a blaze at a Portage County farm Nov. 29, that resulted in the loss of a bank barn and several attached farm buildings and farm animals.

Owned by the Thompson family, of state Route 88 north of Ravenna, the barn was used to house sheep, a few dairy cattle, hay, farm equipment and landscape equipment.
An unknown number of sheep were lost in the fire, as well as some dairy calves and some dogs.

Ravenna Township Fire Chief Mark Kozak said about 20,000 square feet of farm buildings were lost, but the house was undamaged. He said firefighters had to truck water about 1.5 miles because the closest hydrant was in Ravenna.

Kozak said the cause of the fire is under investigation, but does not appear suspicious. The family believes the cause was electrical related.

The barn was owned by Don and Judy Thompson, who operated a dairy farm before transitioning to sheep.

Family farm

Their granddaughter, Kylee Myers, said her grandfather worked at the farm for 40 years and was devastated at the loss.

“He grew up on a farm and that was his dream to have a farm,” she said. “He’s put everything into the farm — his whole world.”

Myers, 19, said she went to her grandfather’s place about every day and she kept animals there. She also helped her grandfather with the sheep, which he raised to be sold for meat.

“I look up to my grandpa. I’m super close to him,” she said.

The Thompsons had insurance, Myers said, but she’s unsure what kind of a barn or farm building will be built in the barn’s place. A new building will be expensive, and it won’t replace the memories of the barn that was lost.

She has created a Go Fund Me account on the Internet, as a way of raising some funds to support her grandparents. So far, about $1,000 has been raised.

Desperate effort

She said her grandfather tried everything he could to get all the animals out of the barn, but the fire and smoke became too much. Some animals also ran back into the barn at their own will, not wanting to leave.

She said he’s deeply saddened by the loss and wouldn’t ask for help, but she wants to do something.

“He’s the first one to offer help, but he doesn’t ask for it,” she said.

The GoFundMe account can be found at www.gofundme.com/helping-rebuild-the-family-farm. You can also find the page on Facebook, by searching “Helping rebuild the family farm.”

Responding fire departments included Streetsboro, Garrettsville, Mantua-Shalersville, Rootstown, Kent, Hiram, Windham, Paris Township, Palmyra Township, Edinburg Township, as well as Community EMS, the Ohio Highway Patrol and the Portage County Sheriff’s Office.

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Chris Kick served Farm and Dairy's readership as a reporter for nearly a decade before accepting a job at Iowa State University Extension. An American FFA Degree recipient, he holds a bachelor’s in creative writing from Ashland University.

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