Community fundraises after barn fire destroys $195K in hay, equipment

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PARADISE, Cache County — Officials are investigating a barn fire that caused an estimated $195,000 damage Tuesday night.

A passerby driving in the area spotted the hay barn of Phil and Teresa Olsen burning at 9808 S. 280 East in Paradise and called 911 about 6:30 p.m. When crews arrived, the barn was fully engulfed in flames, Cache County Fire Marshal Jason Winn said.

The fire destroyed 200 tons of hay, a hay baler, and a trailer carrying three four-wheelers, a motorcycle and a side-by-side utility vehicle, Winn said. Crews remained on site into Tuesday night as the fire burned itself out.

"The whole barn was engulfed within 10 minutes," Teresa Olsen said. "It was frightening. I'm glad it was our hay barn and not one of our neighbors' houses. I'm glad that nobody got hurt."

Families in the Cache County farming community immediately began reaching out to help the Olsen family. Neighbor, Margaret Gittins, started working on a fundraiser barn dance to help replace the Olsen's lost barn.

"You know, it's a very tragic loss," Gittins said. "25 years ago, my dad experienced the same thing as a local farmer in paradise, so it hits especially close to home."

Gittins said several people have already volunteered to help with the event, set for early April.

"It doesn't surprise me at all," Gittins said. "To me, it's what happens when you live in a small community and a community that knows its neighbors and wants to helps its neighbors."

The Olsens said insurance should cover about 70 percent of their losses, and it won't put them out of business.

Because there are no fire hydrants in the area, water to fight the two-alarm blaze was brought in on six water trucks. Firefighters from Paradise, Hyrum, Wellsville, Logan, North Logan and Smithfield were called in to help with the blaze.

The barn was located in the middle of a field, so no additional structures were threatened.

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McKenzie Romero and Mike Anderson


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