Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

Dairy farm fire in Walworth

Neighbors helping neighbors. That was the way things got done on Sunday night (4/13/14) following a barn fire call that went out at 3976 Walworth Ontario Road in Walworth.

“It was about 7:30 at night and I had just putting the kids to bed,” said Kate Worthingtin. Her husband Bill was just coming into the house from milking the cows in the barn. She said he went up to shower and check on the kids (4 year old Jacob and 1-1/2 year old Annabelle).

“Some time went by, and looking out the window from my seat on the couch, I saw the light behind the barn and was admiring how the sunset was very bright. I finally realized it was flames. I called 911 immediately and called to Bill,” Kate explained.

The family exited the house and stood in the neighbor’s driveway to the south, to let firefighters do their job. “I would not let Bill run back to the barn to try to save things.”

Kate was surprised at the number of neighbors, other farmers, and strangers who came out to quickly help move vehicles, farm equipment and just do what they could to help.

“All of this happened so quickly – some people were there before the firefighters even arrived. I noticed the license plate on my car was sort of melted.” One firefighter mentioned that the recycling bin on the porch of the house had melted.

“My friend, Beth, who I have known since Kindergarten, hurried over to  help and kept the kids safe. At their neighbor’s house, the children were sitting down, and drinking water and trying to be remain calm. Jacob, the Worthingtin’s 4 year old son called the neighbor’s house the “stabilizer house”, because he heard they were supposed to be calm and stabilize themselves there.

Flames engulfed the barn quickly and, in the end, the building was a total loss, as well as a bulk milk tank, some of the milking equipment, a tractor, hay and straw.

The miraculous thing, to Kate and her family, as well as many of the firefighters, was that the Worthingtin’s home was saved. With the proximity of the residence to the barn and the wind so prevalent earlier in the day, firefighters continued to soak and monitor the home to save it. Other residences were also close by, but, other than the barn, no one lost property.

Amazingly, 50 cows, who apparently hunkered down in the basement of the barn, were still safe when the flames were doused. Three calves died. Quick thinking neighbors helped to load trailers and transport the rest of the cattle to a nearby dairy farm to be sheltered.

Chad Amsler of Lincoln agreed to shelter the 50 cows and has allowed Bill Worthingtin to milk and feed his cows at the Amsler farm. “Chad has been so generous, as have many area farmers who have donated hundreds and thousands of dollars worth of hay and straw and equipment.

“We are grateful to all the firefighters who turned up that night to fight and put out the fire, and later the next day to check on hot spots”, said Kate. “The Walworth fire chief Dave Osborne has given us his phone number in case of any flair ups.”

The Worthingtins will now wait for insurance inspection, demolition and clean up, but definitely plan to get back into the dairy business. Bill is originally from Canton, NY. Kate (whose maiden name is Austin) is a Macedon native.

“This is all my husband knows. He has done it all his life. We will be milking cows again.”

She started to name all the people who helped…Tom Packard, Kyle Kraft, John Deisenroth, all the firefighters, their friends and neighbors.  “I just can’t remember them all or thank them enough,” Kate stated.