Firefighters and excavator operators worked through the night on Friday, Oct. 30, trying to cool smoldering hot spots of the fire that swallowed a large barn at Graysmarsh Farm.
No injuries were reported and the cause of the blaze still is under investigation, Tony Hudson, Clallam County Fire District 3 assistant chief, said. Investigators with the insurance company and fire district are collaborating in an effort to determine the cause.
“We hope we’ll know something by next week,” Ben Andrews, Clallam County Fire District 3 chief, said.
Firefighters were dispatched at 4:16 p.m., to secure the structure fire off Graysmarsh Lane, Hudson said. Upon their arrival they found the barn fully engulfed by the fire that was first called in by two separate citizens and then by a Graysmarsh Farm employee.
The wooden barn has long been a part of the 1,000-acre lavender and berry farm that sidles the Strait of Juan de Fuca just northeast of Sequim. The age of the barn hasn’t been confirmed, but Hudson said, he’s been told it dates back to the 1940s.
“We lost the barn, which is sad because it was a historic building,” Andrews said. “But, it was a success for us given the amount of heat, fuel and high winds.”
Sustained 20 mph westerly wind and 30 mph gusts with 4,000 bales of hay in and around the barn worked to accelerate the growth of the fire, Hudson explained. Given the conditions and state of fire, the nearly 40 firefighters from surrounding fire districts assumed a defensive position and worked in collaboration to put the fire to rest.
“The crews concentrated their efforts on the surrounding buildings,” Andrews said. “They didn’t get tunnel vision on just the fire — instead when we respond to a fire like this we look at where’s the value.”
To prevent the fire from spreading, firefighters doused nearby buildings, including a residence and carport, with foam fire retardant.
“The barn was the only structure lost,” Hudson said — noting the ability to save the surrounding structures given their proximity to the fire is a reflection of how multiple mutual aid agencies worked seamlessly together to provide the water and manpower needed.
Firefighters also had a brush rig onsite to ensure the dry landscape and surrounding brush wouldn’t catch fire.
Without a water source, all water used to extinguish the fire had to be trucked from Sequim, Andrews said. Water tenders responding from both Clallam and Jefferson counties worked in an efficient, systematic way to bring water to the congested location of the fire.
While crews focused on the fire at Graysmarsh, Hudson said off duty Clallam County Fire District 3 personnel, Olympic Ambulance and a Port Angeles Fire Department Medic Unit answered multiple medical alarms during the structure fire.
“9-1-1 doesn’t put people on hold,” Andrews said.
Graymarsh Farm officials were contacted, but prefer not to comment until more about the fire is known and the investigation is complete.
Reach Alana Linderoth at firstname.lastname@example.org.