STONINGTON — Old Mystic Fire Chief Kenneth Richards Jr. said he had passed the pond in front of White Oak Farms many times and often envisioned how it could be used in the event of a fire in the area.
His foresight became a reality on Monday afternoon when firefighters were forced to drain the pond, 80,000 gallons in all, to combat a blaze at the farm at 630 Al Harvey Road. The fire destroyed a hay-filled barn.
“As soon as I heard the address, I turned to my staff and said ‘There’s a pond across the street that we could use.’ It certainly helped us plan ahead and expedite our response,” Richards said.
Old Mystic firefighters and Stonington police were dispatched around 12:50 p.m. after a woman called to report the barn fire. When firefighters arrived, Richards said that 60 to 70 percent of two-story, 4,000-square foot barn was already engulfed in flames.
Richards said firefighters immediately used a pumper truck to move water from the pond across the street to the neighboring barn, while secondary crews began to establish a perimeter around the blaze.
“We were able to contain the fire and it was mostly out within an hour, but firefighters were on scene until about 8 p.m.,” Richards said.
Old Mystic was assisted by members of the North Stonington, Wequetequock, Ashaway, Gales Ferry and Preston fire departments. Stonington Ambulance and medics with Lawrence + Memorial Hospital also responded, but officials said there were no reported injuries.
An unknown number of chickens were killed in the fire, but cows and horses on the property were not in the barn and were unharmed, officials said.
White Oak Farm is listed in Stonington assessor records as a 97-acre multi-use property that spans both sides of AL Harvey Road. The former dairy farm is owned and leased by Scott Cheetham, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
The cause remains under investigation with the assistance from the Connecticut Fire Marshal’s office. The fire was determined to have started near a set of double doors in the middle of the barn.
Richards said, “It was a devastating fire in terms of the damage. There was nothing suspicious and the cause is very likely going to be left as undetermined.”