Barn Fire Breaks Out at Scotland Vineyard

Flames sparked at a barn at a vineyard in Scotland on Tuesday, the Quinebaug Valley Emergency Communications said. 

“When I heard the kids yelling that ‘the barn is on fire, the barn is on fire!’ I thought they were kidding,” barn owner, Geri Stearns, said.

The barn fire broke out at the The Vineyard at Hillyland on 75 Murphy Hill Road around 4 p.m., dispatch said. 

Stearns was having a family Fourth of July picnic at her home just yards away from the barn. That’s when her son and daughter heard crackling and saw flames coming out of the barn’s upstairs windows.

"Pretty devastating," Stearns said. "We’re all about the history and that, unfortunately, was the part that we lost."

The barn has existed since 1929, according to Stearns, and it’s been in her husband’s family since 1970. It was once a place where they milked cows and was later converted into a winery.

Scotland Winery Heavily Damaged by Fire

Fire Marshal Dana Barrow, Jr. said the fire started in the rear of the barn, where there is an abundance of hay. The cause of the fire is undetermined and still under investigation.

The entire upstairs was a hay loft. The family had future plans to turn it into a banquet hall, Stearns said. The downstairs was where they made wine.

Two firefighters were transported to the hospital for treatment, according to Quinebaug Valley Emergency Communications. Capt. Dan Syme, with the Scotland Volunteer Fire Department, and first selectman of Scotland, said it was for heat exhaustion and those firefighters have been released.

Crews from Scotland, Canterbury, Baltic, Windham Center, Franklin, Occum, Taftville, Yantic, Hampton and Lisbon all responded to get the fire under control.

The vineyard posted on Facebook that there was significant damage to the main barn and winery. Fire officials said the barn was a total loss.

For now, Stearns' short-term plans include getting water to the house and the tasting room – since it was fed from the barn – getting electricity back to the tasting room and then clean-up.

Stearns said she plans to re-open the tasting room soon and wants to rebuild the barn to look like it once did, to preserve some of the history.

Fire officials said the barn was a total loss. Central Village Fire Company reports they removed around 500 boxes of wine from a storage area within the main fire building. Stearns said the winery lost thousands of gallons to the fire.

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