ISLAND FALLS, Maine — Tasha Chambers knew the instant she saw a bright orange glow coming from the barn that her beloved animals were likely dead.
Tasha and Andrew Chambers’ animal barn, located a short distance from their 439 Cold Brook Road home, was fully engulfed in flames Wednesday evening by the time the fire was noticed.
“I was watching television around 10 p.m. when I saw this bright orange glow outside the picture window,” she said. “I looked out and it was totally involved. I knew as soon as I saw that, that the animals were gone.”
There were 17 pigs and a cow inside the barn, along with a farm tractor. One of the pigs had recently given birth to a litter of piglets. Chambers said the family was able to rescue three pigs, but they were so badly burned from the fire that they had to be put down.
The Chambers raise pigs as a source of food.
“We raise them for personal meat and we also had a couple that belonged to other people,” she said. “They were like pets. They were all really friendly and had names. We cared for them the best we could.”
Getting so attached to the animals did make it difficult, she admitted, when it was time for one of them to be sent to market.
The Chambers own a 21-acre parcel of land on the Crystal-Island Falls border. The family has been raising pigs for the past three years, but she has been around animals for most of her life.
“I have always had a bond with animals,” Chambers said. “I’m not much of a people person. I am more of an animal person. But I will say the people in the community have been great offering support.”
Chambers said the fire likely started from a heat lamp, used to provide warmth for the newborn piglets. Volunteer firefighters from Island Falls spent several hours trying to contain the fire, and prevented it from spreading to an adjacent barn that contained two horses.
“It took them awhile to put it out because there was a lot of hay in the barn,” Chambers said. “They did a real good job trying to contain it.”
She did not have an estimate on the damages, but said the building was insured.