Dave St. Pierre, photo
HIGHGATE — Thirteen animals and a walk-in freezer with meat to be sold at the Burlington Farmer’s market were casualties of Sunday’s fire at the Boucher Family Farm, said Dawn Boucher.
The 6:30 p.m. fire on the Gore Road destroyed a complex of two to three connected buildings, including the farm’s original barn, explained Boucher. The buildings were used to house equipment, calves, turkeys and pigs.
The family lost eight pigs and five calves, said Boucher, although firefighters originally thought all of the animals had been rescued.
In a statement released yesterday, state police investigators estimated the damages at $350,000.
The farm’s 140 milking cows escaped the blaze. In addition to locally produced meat, the farm makes 300 pounds of bleu cheese each week, and sells local milk and butter as Redbarn Dairy.
For three years, the Boucher’s also sold Vermont Sunflower Oil, but one of the items destroyed in the farm was the press for oil making. “We lost all our sunflower equipment,” said Boucher.
Also lost was a fully stocked walk-in freezer with meat intended for sale through the fall. “Beef, veal, sausages, chicken, it’s all gone,” she said.
“We heard a couple of pops and an ambulance went by,” said Boucher, of the discovery of the fire. Then she and her husband, Daniel, received a call the barn was on fire.
The farm is owned by Daniel and his brother, Denis Boucher.
According to police, a passerby noticed smoke coming from the windows of the barn, and then turned around and drove past the barn again. Flames were then visible and the person called 9-1-1. The barn was completed engulfed in flame when firefighters arrived on the scene, according to police.
Investigators have listed the cause of the fire as undetermined, but do not consider its origin suspicious. Officials are asking anyone who may have been in the area at the time of the fire to contact the Fire Safety Division at 479-7566.
In addition to the Highgate Fire Dept., firefighters from Franklin, Sheldon, Swanton, St. Albans Town and Phillipsburg, Quebec, responded to the scene. Missisquoi Rescue was on the scene as well.