A fire torched several tons of hay and three barns at a Cornish dairy farm over the weekend.
Cache County Fire Marshal Jason Winn told The Herald Journal on Monday the blaze destroyed 800 tons of hay and caused an estimated $350,000 in damage.
Winn said the hay was intended for use on the dairy farm, and the majority of their hay stores were lost in the fire.
“It’s pretty close,” Winn said, explaining two of the burned barns were full of hay while the third was half-full. “That’s a lot of hay.”
Hay production and accessibility has been challenged by extreme drought conditions affecting the majority of Utah. While many farmers and ranchers have insurance on their hay for just this kind of incident, Winn said replacing the lost feed this year may be a tall task.
“Where are they going to find any extra hay?” Winn asked.
According to Winn, this year’s drought is also impacting the amount of water available to douse flames. Winn said Cornish, like many other small towns, does not have superfluous quantities of water, which is concerning for those fighting fires in rural areas.
“We take, we throw hundreds of thousands of gallons” on a fire, Winn said. “What’s the effect going to be on the citizens?”
Over the weekend, after protecting the structures that weren’t damaged, Winn said water operations were shut down in Cornish due to water quantity concerns, and the property that was too far gone was left to burn.
Hay fires can burn for long periods of time, and while Winn said the fire may still be smoldering, that may actually assist the homeowners.
“It helps the homeowner clean it up,” Winn said. “It saves the homeowner a lot of money and work just to let it, you know, burn.”
The fire began around 6 p.m. Saturday and every fire department on the north end of the valley and one engine from Franklin responded, Winn said.
No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire is unknown and under investigation.