Large Barn Fire Kills Nearly 550 Cattle in New York

A barn fire in New York killed nearly 550 cattle with only about 50 head surviving on the dairy. ( Courtesy of Lewis County Firefighter Volunteers )

A fire on a New York dairy has killed nearly 550 head of cattle with the overwhelming majority being cows.

Dairy producers Doris and Walt Kennell from Copenhagen, N.Y., told the Watertown Daily Times that of the roughly 600 cattle that were held in their freestall barn, only about 50 head survived. There were 504 cows, 40 heifers and four bulls that died in the fire that started late in the evening on April 25.

Firefighters from around the area arrived at the dairy shortly after 11:40 pm when an employee on the farm reported seeing smoke coming through a section of the barn, but it wasn’t quick enough. Eight minutes after the fire was reported the barn had been fully engulfed in flames.

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

Some cows were initially saved from the fire but later had to be euthanized because of the severity of their burns.

Assistance with the fire was provided by the Copenhagen Volunteer Fire Department, Lowville Fire Department, New York State Police, Castorland Fire Co., Martinsburg Fire Department, West Carthage Fire Department Tankers, Rutland Volunteer Fire Department, Lewis County Search & Rescue and Lewis County Fire Coordinators. Firefighters remained on the scene late into the morning assisting with the blaze.

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

Despite the tragedy the Kennell family is optimistic that they will comeback from the fire and be milking cows again.

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

The fire is believed to have been caused by a faulty compressor pump that is used to remove manure out of the barn, but the fire is still under investigation.

Below are some photos from several firefighting pages on Facebook that show the efforts of first responders: