A major fire on Monday threatened to end a Dutchess County farm that has been a pillar of the community and a destination for tourists for decades.
As investigators pieced together what happened, the owners of Barton Orchards in Poughquag were figuring out how to keep family traditions going on the farm.
It was an ordinary Monday at Barton Orchards when disaster struck. A horrific fire engulfed two major buildings on the farm and damaged six others when a routine propane delivery apparently went wrong.
“The firefighters should be commended because they actually came close to the site when people were still running from the site," said Peter Barton, the owner of Barton Orchards.
Beekman Fire Company arrived on scene assisted by more than a dozen companies from around Dutchess and Putnam Counties and even Connecticut. The fire took three hours to contain, and the farm and surrounding neighborhoods were evacuated.
Barton can’t believe the destruction.
What You Need To Know
- Barton Orchards started out as a commercial farm, but now it's a pick your own farm with live music, animals and a tap room
- Peter Barton says Monday's fire destroyed two major buildings on the farm and damaged several others
- No employees or animals were injured in the blaze; one firefighter suffered a minor injury
“We had big freezer, big cooler and then over there would have been all of the bakery section that we had. We had a concession section that was over this area over here. You can see some ovens," said Barton.
What used to be a deli, ice cream shop and farm market is now reduced to charred hot dog wrappers, gutted fridges and the skeletons of employees' vehicles. Even the siding of surrounding buildings melted in the inferno.
Thankfully, no employees or farm animals were hurt. A firefighter suffered a minor injury while fighting the blaze. But there's a total loss of years of machinery, investments and hard work.
"The initial impact on us was that 'Oh my God, nobody got hurt.' The animals are fine, thank gosh, and all that, so I'd say now that we're several days afterwards, it's starting to really settle in the disaster that we have on our hands here," said Barton.
Despite the loss, they’re determined to keep moving ahead. The farm will be open this weekend for pick your own vegetables, apple picking and even live music from a Beekman firefighter.
"The duo that’s playing, one of them is a young firefighter that was actually one of the main people that was here," said Barton.
Now, they’ll be helping to bring joy back to the farm that has been welcoming families for over 30 years.
"[The] tradition that people have coming here with their family, whether they were the child and now they’re the adult and bringing their children, so when the word got out, it was just an outpouring everywhere," said Barton.
The support from local residents and businesses has kept them going.
"We asked for people to share some of their memories they’ve had here over all the years and it was outrageous. I mean, it touched us," said Barton.