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Fire burns Burdettes’ barn near Mercersburg

A barn full of hay burned early Saturday at Windy Knoll View on Corner Road.

It’s the second fire in less than four years to affect the Burdette family.

Reese Burdette was seriously injured in May 2014 when her maternal grandparents’ home in Virginia caught fire. The community tied purple ribbons on trees and lined Mercersburg’s streets to welcome Reese home after the girl spend nearly two years in hospitals.

A pole barn at the farm of her paternal grandparents, Jim and Nina Burdette, was destroyed on Saturday. A hay baler and 800 large square bales of hay were lost in the fire. No livestock were lost.

The farm’s Holstein herd has an international reputation. Reese’s cow, Pantene, recently was judged the top five-year-old at the All-American Holstein Show in Harrisburg. The farm was named a premier breeder and exhibitor. Reese was 5 when she showed Pantene at the 2012 show. Pantene visited Reese while she was in recovery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.


Reese, a fifth-grader at Mercersburg Elementary School who lives next door to her grandparents, currently is scheduled for a kidney transplant on Nov. 20  at Johns Hopkins.

“We’re doing okay,” said Claire Burdette, Reese’s mother. “We’re just so grateful nobody was hurt and no animals were hurt. Reese is doing really well. She realizes that it’s a building and hay and those things can be replaced. Her mind is very strong about it.”

The barn did not house animals, she said. Two in a fenced lot outside the barn were moved without incident.

The three-sided pole barn was in flames when firefighters arrived, according to MMPW Fire Chief Dale Carbaugh. Firefighters let the hay pile burn and made sure the surrounding structures were not in danger of catching fire.

“We were pretty lucky there was nothing close to it,” Carbaugh said.

Seven fire companies assisted initially.

Carbaugh said the owner awoke and called in the alarm.

“It looked very light out. He thought he had overslept,” Carbaugh said. “When he looked outside he saw it wasn’t that the sun had come up, it was the fire.”

The cause of the fire is under investigation, but Carbaugh said he does not suspect foul play. The loss is insured.

“We’ll have to buy hay this winter,” Claire Burdette said. “First we have to rebuild because we can’t buy hay until we have a place to put it.”

The farm has 300 animals.

“We very thankful for the fire companies that came and did such an excellent job,” Claire Burdette said. “It was not chaotic. We’re were able to do our chores in the morning. We’re grateful to those from the community who came be to see if we needed help.”

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