Quick-moving fire levels Donaldsons’ barn

AFP Correspondent

MANSFIELD TOWNSHIP (Sept. 15, 2016) — A devastating fire destroyed a barn full of equipment on Donaldsons Farm in Mansfield Township on Friday, Sept. 9.
Saturday morning the barn was a pile of rubble but Greg Donaldson was thankful no one was seriously hurt and many area farmers stepped up to help him out.
Donaldson said the fire started when a spark ignited some straw at about 4:45 p.m.
“It went from zero to engulfed in 30 seconds,” he said.
His daughter, Kieran, and an employee got equipment out of the building.
Kieran suffered minor burns on the back of both arms, but was working Saturday morning after some first aid from her mother, Donaldson said.
His brother, Gary and Gary’s son, Justin, used backhoes and track loaders to pull straw out and spread it around as fire fighters from many neighboring departments fought the blaze, Donaldson said. Firemen were on site until 2 a.m. Saturday.
“The barn was packed full of stuff,” Donaldson said. He pointed to a brand new generator that was destroyed. “I don’t even have a shovel,” he added. An employee came over while he was talking and asked for a rake. Donaldson shook his head.
Also lost was an old John Deere B tractor.
Acetylene tanks were also in the barn.
“I heard four or five explosions,” Gary Donaldson said.
People in nearby Hackettstown said an acrid smell could be detected on Main Street.
The plastic on the solar panels that were on the roof of the barn melted and was the likely source.
Donaldson’s continued with the sunflower tours that had been scheduled and also with a tribute to first responders for the 9-11 anniversary.
“It’s a tribute to all the first responders who were here last night,” Donaldson said.
Also on scene Friday night or Saturday morning were other farmers. Donaldson ticked off a list of farmers who brought apple boxes and other items he would need: “Larry Freeborn was here last night,” he said, “Kurt Alstede, the Melicks, Scott and Larry Ashley brought a tractor and equipment.”
Bob Best was touring the site with Donaldson midday Saturday.
Gary Donaldson went to get canopies to replace tents that were lot. The third Donaldson brother, David, who runs a nursery, also provided help.
“I’m touched by it. Farmers stick together,” Greg Donaldson said.