Hillman Fire Destroys Barn, Kills Several Animals Trapped Inside

"There were animals inside. There’s nothing left of this barn."

A barn more than a century-old, ripped apart by a fast-moving fire…

Many animals did not make it out.

Despite the efforts of several crews, the barn was a total loss.

While many animals didn’t survive, some managed to escape.

The barn fire started on Lake Avalon Road near the Village of Hillman in Montmorency County just before noon.

9&10’s Cody Boyer was on the scene shortly after it started.

He has more details.

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"We had flames extending from every portion of this barn," says Hillman Fire Chief Jim Thompson.

A generational barn sending plumes of smoke over the small village of Hllman…

Crews acted fast but couldn’t stop it.

Fire Chief Jim Thompson says what was inside the barn helped it burn faster.

“When we arrived on scene, flames were coming out of the three-story barn," Thompson says. "You’ll find that there was a large amount of hay stored inside.”

…and Mother Nature also slowed things down.

"The wind was blowing very, very hard and contributed a lot to fire suppression," Thompson says. "Icy roads, things to that nature. It wouldn’t surprise me to see it be a 100-year-old barn. They are going to go fast."

As wood burned, the hay-filled barn collapsed… there were animals inside.

Three pigs and several chickens couldn’t get out… other cows and pigs got out and survived.

"It’s extremely fortunate," Thompson says. "It’s the difference between a gate being open and closed. It’s the difference between just timing and wind. This was a hot, hot fire and it was a very fast fire."

Despite freezing water, wind and intense heat, crews put out the fire after more than an hour.

“Admittedly, safety is a huge issue," Thompson says. "There is a basement under this with old timbers and things of that nature. We need to make sure that we are not risking our lives beyond where we already have.”

Now this family farm is in shambles

"Visibly shaken, of course," Thompson says. "Their worldly possessions were in that barn, their animals, their livelihood. This is how they make a living. This is a generational farm. They will be numb for days."

The Hillman Fire Department was assisted by the Tri-Township Fire Department, Long Rapids Fire Department and the Montmorency County Sheriff’s Office.