Firefighters helped extinguish an arsonist’s fire in a milking barn early in the morning Sept. 25 at a New York dairy family’s farm. According to The Oberver-Dispatch of Utica, New York, firefighters were dispatched at 2:20 a.m. to Dave and Robin Fitch’s dairy farm for a fire that investigators now say was intentionally set.
Dave Fitch says four of his 165 milking cows were injured during evacuation of the dairy’s freestall barn.
“We’re trying to sleep with one eye open now; it’s pretty hard,” Fitch says.
Besides local authorities, the incident has been reported to the New York State Department of Justice and state attorney general. Investigator Frank Spatto with the New York State Police states that it was “definitely arson.” They are still investigating and processing evidence. No arrests have been made at this time.
Fitch has been outspoken about producer pay prices, getting some media attention for dumping his milk on July 4th this year. (Click the image above to read more about the July 4th milk dumping.) Fitch is unsure who may be responsible but believes his comments about low producer prices may have threatened some in the milk industry.
“This could have been a whole different story if my son hadn’t been persistent in saying the cows were telling us something was wrong,” Fitch says.
Fitch’s son, Justin, had been in the barn two evenings earlier and thought he heard and saw an intruder fleeing the barn. The night of the fire Justin heard the cows bawling and thought the sounds were unusual.
“He said they sounded like they do when they get out,” Dave says.
The two checked and discovered fire and a barn filled with smoke just above the cows’ backs. Justin evacuated cows while Dave started throwing water from a trough on the flames.
Dave estimates total damage in the barn at $5,000. PD