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Agriculture / Conservation News
Litchfield’s Damiani barn destroyed

By by Brigitte Ruthman, Waterbury Republican-American (January 16, 2008)

  FEBRUARY 2008 -- Editor's Note:  Since Sister Healy submitted her article about the Damiani Farm, a fire (possibly set by arsonists) destroyed their barn.  Litchfield Grange is currently establishing a fund to help the Damiani family through this difficult time.  More details on the fundraising will be provided in upcoming issues of the Connecticut Granger and on this website.  Below is a recent news report of the fire.

LITCHFIELD — The masonry and wood framed barn where Ray Damiani stored $40,000 worth of hay along Beach Street until Monday night’s fire destroyed it won’t be rebuilt.
Like many of the state’s former dairy-related barns, it wasn’t covered by enough insurance to afford a replacement.
The cause of the fire battled by firefighters through the night was ruled undetermined by local Fire Marshal Thomas O’Hare Tuesday due to the extent of the damage. Spontaneous combustion, often blamed as an ignition source when wet hay heats up as it decomposes, is unlikely, area farmers said. Damiani’s 10,000 bales were premium dry bales collected last summer.
“There is no way it was spontaneous combustion because that would have occurred within a couple of months of putting wet hay in,” said Rick Plumb, who farms at Meadowridge Farm a quarter mile up the road from the fire. “And Ray puts in good hay.”
The fire, reported at about 8 p.m. by numerous 911 callers, likely began in a section facing Beach Street, O’Hare said. It leveled all but the masonry walls and three silos of the 88-year-old barn, which was packed with some of the best timothy grasses harvested in 20 years, the farmer said.
“There was no electricity to that part of the barn and there was nothing suspicious at 7:30 p.m.,” said Damiani, who believes it was set.
The loss will pinch local supplies, which typically dwindle by midwinter. The demand for hay, valued at $3 to $7 depending on quality, is growing.
“Hay is at a premium,” said Bob Pellegrino, director of marketing at the state’s Department of Agriculture. “It’s been that way for a couple of years. There is a lot of demand, especially to feed horse and small backyard livestock operations.”

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