CHINA — A barn and an attached apartment were destroyed Saturday after a grass fire spread to the building.

The fire occurred late Saturday morning at 787 Neck Road. No one was inside when the fire began, but the building’s owner went inside to try to save a few items from the blaze.

According to China Village Fire Department Chief Tim Theriault, the fire engulfed the building quickly. He said no one was hurt in the blaze, but the building was destroyed.

“It was fully engulfed when I arrived,” he said as black-and-white smoke billowed from the remains of the building.

Richard Willette, who owns the building but doesn’t live there, said it started after a permitted grass fire spread to nearby tires against the building. He said by the time he realized the fire had spread, it was too late. He said the fire moved fast.

“I was hauling stuff out as much as I could” before abandoning the effort, he said,.


Willette’s neighbor, Chip Farrington, called 911 after he and his family saw the flames. Farrington lives across the street, and said because of the wind on Saturday, the fire was able to spread into his yard. He put out the fire there with a garden hose. He said responders arrived at the scene within 15 minutes, but by that time the barn was fully engulfed with flames.

The barn was used mostly for storage, by Willette, Farrington and the apartment’s tenant, who was not present at the time of the fire. Most of the equipment in the barn, including tools, boats and recently purchased solar panels, was lost.

Farrington’s wife, Alyshia, recalled seeing black smoke and hearing “popping and banging” inside the barn. A number of oxygen tanks in the barn exploded. Farrington and his stepdaughter, Madyx Kennedy, recalled the noise sounding like fireworks. Farrington said he “wouldn’t dare to guess” the quantity or value of the things he lost in the fire, but said it was “more than in the hundreds” of dollars. Willette said he also had 5,000 feet of lumber in the barn.

“We heard explosions,” Willette said.

The fire also spread to nearby power lines, which brought live wires down across the road near Farrington’s property. Farrington said Willette went back into the barn after the fire started to get property out of there, and he eventually had to call Willette away.

“My heart was going through my chest,” Farrington said.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

[email protected]

Twitter: @colinoellis

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