The Bainbridge Fire Department responded Sunday night to a barn fire on the property of the department chief.

No animals were injured and no equipment was damaged in the blaze, but more than 10,000 square bales and 110 dry round bales were lost, according to Fred Bell, owner of Fred R. Bell Hay, Cattle and Auction Service.

“We’re in the hay business, so it certainly put a kink in our business — that was our winter hay, our sale hay,” Bell said. “But we’ll be fine. We have enough other irons in the fire that we’ll be OK.”

The fire started sometime between 10:30 and 10:45 p.m. Sunday, according to Bell. 

The family had been out stacking hay since 5:15 a.m. and had only been in bed half an hour when a neighbor ran in the house yelling about the fire, Bell said.

“We were out cold and had no idea,” he said

Fire departments from Afton, Coventry, Harpursville, Sidney, Masonville and Trout Creek provided mutual aid, but crews didn’t get the fire under control until almost 3 a.m., Bell said.

“It’s still burning as we speak, and will probably keep burning for a month or so,” he said. “We just need the go-ahead from the zoning commissioner and insurance before we put it in the hole.”

Bell said the property has three other barns and another huge work shed nearby.

“We had luck on our side,” he said. “We’re very glad we didn’t lose more than what we lost”

Bell said his 40 head of beef cattle, which are usually in the barn feeding off broken bales and loose hay this time of year, were grazing in a back lot during the fire, and 10 horses were off in a side lot.

He said the barn, which he owned for more than 20 years, “meant more to me than most people realize, but barns are rebuildable. It may take a year or two, but we’ll be OK.”

The cause of the blaze has yet to be determined, Bell said.

“I’ve been fire chief for more than 10 years and working in fire departments for 32 years,” he said. “I’ve never seen a barn go up like that.”

Bell expressed his appreciation to the volunteers who responded and neighbors who came out to help, some of whom even offered water from their pond to put out the blaze.

“I’ve done it for 32 years, but it’s always been for somebody else,” he said. “It was nice to see how the guys acted when you’re on the other end of it. It’s the brotherhood.”

“We live in a good spot. We’ve got good folks around us,” Bell said.

Sarah Eames, staff writer, can be reached at or 607-441-7213. Follow her @DS_SarahE on Twitter.

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