With roads treacherous from several inches of fallen snow, the Martins Fork Volunteer Fire Department tried to respond to a fire on Harbor Lane in Smith on Wednesday night where a barn was destroyed and the contents were lost. Fire Chief Scott Blanton said he was paged out at approximately 9 p.m. to the Smith area with 4 to 5 inches of snow on the roads and more falling quickly.
“The roads were so bad a lot of my volunteer firefighters couldn’t make it to the station,” said Blanton. “There were four of us that did make it, and we took one truck and headed up KY 987. We got to about Three Point when the Kentucky State Police hollered at us over the radio and told us to not risk our lives for a barn. They said the owner had called them and said she didn’t want anyone hurt because of this fire. They told us to turn around and go back because the roads were treacherous — absolutely horrible, so we did.”
Edwina Harbor Burkhart, owner of the barn, said she became aware of the fire when a neighbor returning home saw the smoke and called her to report it.
“It was snowing really hard and I jumped into some coveralls and tennis shoes, because I couldn’t find my barn boots, trying to get to the barn and save my horses and anything else I could,” said Burkhart. “My neighbor, who saw the fire, went home and got her husband and he came as fast as he could and got my horses out of the barn — turned them into the field — thank God.”
Burkhart said along with the loss of her barn, she also lost 250 large bales of hay, valued at approximately $750, and other items she kept in the barn.
“I just about killed myself trying to get to that fire,” said Burkhart. “The road was so bad. I had to drive down and cross a bridge to get to the barn. When I put my brakes on I slid down to the next house, turned all the way around and drove back up to the road and came out and over the bridge. It was horrible. The road was awful.”
Burkhart said once she got to the barn, the heat from the fire had melted the snow and as she was trying to get some things out of the barn, when she fell and re-injured her “bad knee.”
“I like to never got up,” said Burkhart. “Thank goodness, my little nephew arrived on the scene and helped me get up. We tried to retrieve some of the items from the barn, and in doing this I must have breathed too much smoke. I have been coughing for hours on end. I’m bruised up pretty bad too from the fall.”
Burkhart said there was no electricity in the barn, so she believes the fire was the work of an arsonist.
“I called Kentucky State Police and they told me they will be sending their arson investigator to investigate the scene,” said Burkhart. “I’m just so grateful no firefighter, police officer or neighbors were injured as a result of this fire.”
Blanton added on their return to the fire station, they “liked to never got their engine back up Cawood Hill to the station.” He said there were “cars lined up, over in the ditchline and sliding off everywhere trying to get up and down Cawood hill.”
Blanton added the barn was a complete loss. He said Martins Fork Volunteer Fire Department and KSP were the only responders to the fire.
Nola Sizemore may be reached at 606-573-4510, ext. 115, or on Twitter @Nola_hde