Fire causes explosions, damage at Warren County farm

By Katie Demeria

A fire destroyed some outbuildings and tractors at a farm in Warren County Thursday evening.

The residents, Ray Rowe, 73, and Sharon Rowe, 72, were inside their home when they heard explosions as flames reached propane tanks outside.

Firefighters were called to the 532 Rittenour Hollow Road scene to find the tractor shed fully involved, according to Warren County Fire and Rescue Services Chief Richard Mabie.

The high winds caused flames to quickly spread to other buildings and several tractors.

Mabie said a row of buildings contained various items, from tires to tractor fuel. Flames were progressing down those buildings when firefighters intervened.

“The blaze was just huge, you couldn’t get close to it, it was so hot,” Ray Rowe said.

According to a fire and rescue services news release, “This incident involved an area half the size of a football field and smoke could be seen for miles away.”

Crews were able to prevent flames from spreading to the Rowe’s residence or surrounding woodlands. Luckily, Mabie said, the wind was blowing in the opposite direction of the house.

Firefighters remained on scene until just after 9 p.m., Mabie said.

The couple raise miniature donkeys on their property, and none were injured in the flames. Several chickens perished, however, when their chicken house was consumed, Ray Rowe said.

He added that he was able to save his Rottweiler puppy after breaking into the back of the building where it was housed. He coaxed the frightened animal out.

“He’s OK, got a little bit scorched, but he’s OK. He’s happy as could be,” Ray Rowe said. “But he was so afraid, the flames were hot, and they were burning in my face. But I just couldn’t leave him there.”

Mabie and Ray Rowe both said discarded ashes started the flame. Ray Rowe said the wind must have rekindled them after they were dumped in the garden.

Fire authorities are in the process of filing preliminary estimates regarding the amount the Rowes lost to the flames. Right now, Mabie said they believe the fire caused well over $200,000 in damage.

Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kdemeria@nvdaily.com