COTTONWOOD -- Folks in farming communities are familiar with blazing hay fires in the middle of the night. Cottonwood suffered one of those impressive blazes in the early morning hours Friday. The two-story Verde Hay Barn in Bridgeport caught fire and burned.
The fire was reported at 2:01 a.m. and flames were already showing.
Capt. Mark Dixon of Verde Valley Fire said Cottonwood Fire crews were the first on the scene followed by Verde Valley Fire, Sedona and Camp Verde Fire companies. Crews used three ladder trucks to give them height above the two-story building. There were four engine companies and numerous support vehicles and crew members.
With fire hydrants on the opposite side of State Route 89A, water hoses stretched across the highway to reach the fire, closing the roadway for an estimated three hours, according to Operations Chief Jerry Doerksen.
The fire was not considered under control for about two hours after the initial report but continued to smolder into the morning.
A large 18-wheel truck and trailer stacked high with hay was parked in the barn and was burned in the fire. Until that truck was pulled out of the barn, fire crews could not fully extinguish remaining hot spots.
Most of the barn contained hay and straw, as well as animal and feed supplies. The offices on the far west side of the building were saved, but suffered serious smoke damage.
No one was in the building at the time of the fire, but there were a number of birds and animals for sale behind the offices. Four goats and some chickens were saved, but some enclosed small birds were lost to the blaze.
First built in the 1970s, the building originally housed a mini-golf operation for only a few years. The wood frame barn was reconstructed as a two-story building for hay storage by lifting the structure and supporting it with a new story built of concrete blocks.
Roy Dean, whose family owns the building and surrounding property, says the hay barn is the primary sales point for hay raised on the family's Buckeye farm.
Dean asked that firefighters retain the concrete block walls for possible reconstruction, but he told the Verde Independent that it is still too early to determine if it will be rebuilt, given expensive county permitting and other unknowns.