Fire levels two historic Duvall barns
08/06/2003

From KING/KING5.com Staff Reports


DUVALL, Wash. - Firefighters spent early Wednesday morning battling three large fires that destroyed several barns in a rural farm area of Duvall, Wash.

According to some Duvall residents, the structures on Cherry Valley Road were historic barns, one of which housed about 20 polo horses.

Firefighters arrived at the scene just after 6 a.m. Wednesday. Video from a KING-TV helicopter showed three structures - two large barns and a smaller one - completely engulfed in flames and burned to the ground.



KING
Firefighters were battling three barn fires in Duvall, Wash.
"These barns have been totally restored and are all on the historic list," said Brenda, a Duvall resident . "We've had people come from all over the world to see them. It's a very sad day."

The tenants of the nearby farm house, a man and his 11-year-old son, reportedly were able to escape without harm. The man attempted to save the horses, but according to a friend of the family, he was unable to save two horses.

Firefighters had difficulty fighting the burning structures, located in a rural area with limited access and water. Fire crews only had a two lane road to reach the barns and a narrow bridge prevented their fire engines from reaching the fires.

Firefighters had to haul fire equipment to the scene; furthermore, the only water available to firefighters were from water tankers.



KING
The close proximity of the fires to the wooded area had firefighters concerned about it spreading.

Since the barns were located next to a heavily wooded area, firefighters were especially worried about the blaze erupting into a brush fire. They managed to contain the blaze and were mopping up hot spots by 8 a.m.

King County fire marshalls speculated that lighting from a thunderstorm that passed through the area could have sparked the blaze. They were also looking into the possibility that a blown transformer started the fire, or possibly combustible hay from the increased temperatures.




Historic barns were 'exceedingly beautiful'

According to two Duvall residents, the barns were historic gothic-style dairy barns built around 1909 and were underdoing renovation. The barns had sentimental and historic value to local residents and were photographed frequently.



KING 5's Ray Lane reports


"It's just really extra tragic to me because they were period structures that are unmatched here," said Sam Howe, who does roof renovation work in the area.

"These are probably the largest barns of this style and vintage in this whole entire area," said Howe. "They were built right around 1909. They were huge. They were 65 feet from the ground to the top. Both of them, they were gorgeous structures."



KING
The barns were used in a 1999 movie.
The barns were used in a 1999 movie called Highway, starring Jared Leto and Salma Blair. The barns were pivotal to the scene in the quirky road trip movie. According to one KING 5 viewer, fire trucks were standing by during filming because of the fire danger in the area.

"They were exceeding beautiful barns," said Brenda. "When they came in to do the movie, the movie people put up the money to help restore them."

Brenda added that the couple that owns the barns have spent the last decade doing renovation work to the structures.



KING5.com's Liza Javier contributed to this report.