Fire at New York Farm Claims Man’s Life

New York has seen a spike in barn fires over the past year, with another fire igniting just this week. 

It is believed that a wood stove is to blame for the complete loss of a farmhouse, cattle barn and workshop. Collapsing at the scene, the event claimed the life of 93-year-old Henry Synakowski. Six people lived on the small family farm in Trenton, New York.

"Between the house, the barn, the shop and the equipment, probably close to $750,000 [in damage was done]," said Chief Kevin Kalk in an interview with News Channel 2.

Gusty winds peaking at 48 mph made it difficult for firefighters to extinguish the flames. Spreading quickly, the fire also burned part of a nearby field before being put out. 

Housed in a nearby barn, 44 cows were able to escape the flames. Other farmers in the area have opened up their facilities to care for these animals while the family recovers. Bernie Synakowski noted that all of the hay and silage used to feed the herd had been lost, according to CNY News.

Damage done to the cattle barn can be seen below:

Katie Ockert, an extension agent at Michigan State University, offers these five tips to better prepare your livestock operation in case a fire would occur.

  1. Identify and designate a safe place for your animals to go if you can get them out of the barn safely. This location should be away from the fire and allows fire crews enough room to do their jobs.
  2. Handling equipment such as halters, leads, etc. should be quickly accessible. Consider the materials these items are made of. Remember that plastic and nylon will melt in heat.
  3. Talk about the plan with members of your family and any employees you might have so they can also be prepared in an emergency.
  4. Mark gates, pens or stalls with reflective tape or glow-in-the dark paint. This will make it easier to see where you are going in the dark.
  5. If you are removing animals, start closest to the exit first and handle animals one at a time or by groups if they are herd animals. Always maintain control of the animals to help reduce their stress, which can prevent other injury risks.

For more on barn fire safety and prevention, read:

Here are some additional articles that provide safety tips and resources for farmers:


A GoFundMe page has been created for the family and can be accessed here.