Fire kills over 500 dairy cattle Copenhagen NY

Fire kills over 500 dairy cattle in Copenhagen, NY

Our thoughts are with the Kennell family as they deal with this horrifying loss that happened on April 25th, 2019.

Out of about 600 cows in the barn at 8711 Route 12, 550 were lost to the fire — 504 milking cows, 40 heifers and 4 bulls, according to farm owners Doris and Walt Kennell.

“We’ve never had anything like this happen. I hope it never happens again and I wish it never happened now,” said Mrs. Kennell.

Mrs. Kennell said at about 11:40 p.m., one of their workers saw smoke coming down the breezeway between two sections of the barn while he was tending to the cows and called one of the Kennell sons, who was first on the scene.

“It was eight minutes, he said, from when he got the call to when the barn was fully engulfed,” Mrs. Kennell said.

Her son, Tim Kennell, ran to the far end of the 465-foot structure to see if he could rescue some animals, thinking the fire began in the near end, Mrs. Kennell said, but it had started in the middle and already spread to where Tim was running.

“The barn was built in sections,” Mrs. Kennell said, “We think the fire started in the second quarter and just spread. There was no hay or anything.”

According to the Lewis County Fire Department report, the employee saw a small fire near a compressor.

Insurance investigators told Mrs. Kennell that a faulty compression pump caused the fire. The pump is used to move manure out of the barn.

Working together, the family and the workers managed to pull out dozens of cows, but they were so badly burned they had to be euthanized, the Kennells said.

By the time the Copenhagen Fire Department arrived, the barn was already completely in flames, the fire report said.

Family, friends and neighbors came to bring warm breakfast sandwiches, meals for later, water and comfort to the family all morning.

“We’ve seen a big outpouring of people and we are so thankful. And we’re just so thankful no one was hurt,” said Mrs. Kennell.

Mr. Kennell added, “All the rest is just stuff. It can be replaced.”

The Kennell family didn’t have time to dwell on what happened to them and expressed no self pity. The focus now is what to do with the hundreds of dead cattle.

Mrs. Kennell said that the company they normally use to remove dead animals charges $100 per animal to take the carcass away.

They have never had to call for so many at once, but all four of the Kennells’ sons were there to help, along with extended family members and friends.

Some were calling about the cows, others about people that may be interested in the steel left from the barn’s wreckage and how to clean up the rest of the mess left behind.

“It does help, being a family, going through it together,” Tim Kennell said, taking the situation in stride. “It’s a big business and lots of things happen all the time.”

Lewis County Cornell Cooperative Extension Executive Director Michele Ledoux said this is the largest devastation of a herd in a barn fire in recent memory, but that the family is concentrating on making sure the cows they have left are safe and healthy.

Mr. and Mrs. Kennel said they are insured, but they have a lot to consider.

“I just hope I’m farming when it’s all done,” said Mr. Kennell, “That’s where my heart is.”

Assisting at the scene were the fire departments from West Carthage, Rutland, Castorland, Lowville and Martinsburg, along with the state police, the county Origin and Cause, Highway and Search and Rescue Teams, the Copenhagen Fire Auxiliary and Groff’s Towing.

The fire is still under investigation.


Source: Watertown Daily Times

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