Maryland barn fire kills 100 cows

By Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A fire at a 30,000-square-foot dairy barn in Frederick County killed about 100 cows and calves Sunday, authorities said.

More than 170 calves and pregnant cows were in the barn on Oak Hill Road, and the owner of the farm said that slightly more than 60 of them were rescued, according to a fire official. An exact count was not available.

The fire at the Oak Bluff Dairy Farm was determined to be accidental, the result of spontaneous heating and then ignition of hay bales and dust, said Mark E. McNeal, a bureau chief in the county fire marshal's office.

Damage was estimated at about $600,000.

McNeal said the fire had apparently smoldered before being spotted by a family member who was moving hay bales.

The barn's large quantity of hay, hay dust and grain caused the fire to spread rapidly and reach a high temperature, he said.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company