May 25, 2018
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Barn, horse stable destroyed by fire in Farmington

Ann Bryant | Sun Journal
Ann Bryant | Sun Journal
Firefighters found the barn at Knowlton Corner Farm in Farmington fully engulfed when they arrived at about 4 a.m. Thursday.
By Ann Bryant, Sun Journal

FARMINGTON, Maine — The State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the cause of an early morning fire that destroyed a large barn and stable at Knowlton Corner Farm.

A horse being boarded there and a pair of cats were lost in the early morning blaze.

When firefighters arrived at 341 Knowlton Corner Road about 4 a.m., the barn and stable were engulfed in flames, Clyde Ross, deputy chief of Farmington Fire and Rescue, said.

About a dozen horses were outside when the fire started and were unharmed, Jim Pierce, nephew of owners Robert Govoni and Arlene Messelli, said at the scene.

“They’re really upset about the horse [that died],” Pierce said.

The couple board and train horses in the 60-by-120-foot barn with an inside training ring built in the mid-1800s, he said. The pair had lived at the farm at Knowlton Corner and Seamon roads since the mid-1990s.

The barn was insured.

Local farmers are offering stall space and hay to tend the remaining horses, Pierce said. Most of the horses stay outside with a shelter available.

The owners were alerted to the blaze by passers-by who knocked on the windows to their house, Pierce said.

The owners were able to move their personal vehicles but lost a trailer, two jeeps, a horse trailer and a dump truck, Pierce said. They also lost a boat and two snowmobiles stored under the barn.

Heat from the blaze melted the siding on the farmhouse but it and a garage were saved.

Wind and extreme cold hampered firefighting, Farmington Fire Chief Terry Bell said. More than 3,000 feet of hose was laid to bring water about three-quarters of a mile from Seamon Road. Water also was transported from Chesterville, he said.

Farmington Fire and Rescue was assisted by other fire departments including Wilton, Chesterville, Industry, Strong, Temple, New Sharon and East Dixfield, Ross said. Tankers from Farmington, Wilton and Temple returned to the scene late Thursday afternoon when the fire rekindled.

The town highway department sanded roads iced over from water used on the fire. Farmington police helped close surrounding roads.

NorthStar ambulance officials stood by and members of the Franklin County Emergency Response Team, including Sylvia Yeaton, Nancy Teel, Mary Frank, Ruth Gauvin and Al McDaniel, brought coffee and food to the firefighters.

Knowlton Corner Farm previously was described by Messelli as a diversified 60-acre, family-run farm featuring horse lessons and boarding, a horse camp, therapeutic riding for the disabled, gardens and a bakery.

Each year, the couple decorated the interior of the barn at Halloween and offered a fundraiser to support the local animal shelter.

The family had just completed a new bakery on the side of the stable and had the licensing ready to open the bakery Wednesday, Pierce said.

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