Fire destroys James City barn on Tuesday night

Piles of hay were still smoldering on Wednesday morning after a barn was destroyed by a fire in James City on Tuesday night.

The visible wreckage included melted metal fans, chairs and a file cabinet, as well as a charred pitchfork and Ford-New Holland 6610 tractor.

“There was nothing left when I got here last night,” said Jeff McCracken, the 44-year-old son of farm owners Wayne and Willie-Mae McCracken.

No one was injured, but the remains of farming equipment lie in the mud with the blackened infrastructure. The equipment is lost forever because the barn was uninsured, Jeff McCracken said.

“It’s a lot of money lost,” he said. “My parents are upset but... there’s nothing we can do about it. It’s just one of those things.”

The five-acre farm was once home to horses, cows and bulls until the McCracken couple had to stop working the land due to Wayne’s lung cancer, their son said.

Jeff McCracken maintains the land in his spare time, which is sparse because he works for James City County and owns a business.

First responders from James City and York counties were called at 8:42 p.m., to the 3500 block of Brick Bat Road because of the reported fire, according to a James City news release.

Firefighters needed about an hour to get the fire under control, the news release states.

The barn was full of hay, making the fire hard to put out, James City County Fire Department Battalion Chief Chris Thomas said.

There was also diesel fuel in the barn, although it is hard to say whether or not that fueled the fire, said James City County Fire Department Fire Chief Ryan Ashe.

Fire fighters got more than 20,000 gallons of water from area hydrants to fight the fire because of the barn’s remote location, Thomas said.

They also used about 40 gallons of Class A foam to smother the hay. More foam was en route to the site on Wednesday morning, Thomas said.

Class A foam is used to smother fire in natural materials. The foam makes it easier for the fire to be extinguished using water, Thomas said.

A plow from the Virginia Department of Forestry was used to rake the rest of the smoldering hay off the site to be extinguished, Thomas said.

“They did the best they could to put it out last night, but hay often smolders,” Thomas said.

“It’s so dry, and there were all kinds of supplies and diesel fuel. Any spark at all would be a disaster,” Jeff McCracken added.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, although Ashe believes the cause will be ruled undetermined.

“Sometimes with that level of damage it’s very difficult to tell,” Ashe said.

Mayfield can be reached at 757-298-5828.

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