3-Alarm Fire Destroys Historic UConn Barn

A historic barn on the University of Connecticut campus in Storrs will have to be torn down after a three-alarm fire destroyed it and investigators are trying to determine what started the flames.

Fire departments from UConn, Willimantic, Willington, Coventry, Mansfield and Tolland were called to the raging fire at the landscaping barn on Horsebarn Hill Road, on the east side of campus, just before 11 p.m. Monday and it took around five hours to get the fire under control.  

On Tuesday morning, all that is left is rubble.

"Due to extent of the fire and a downed power line, it was decided to make a defensive attack by fighting the fire from all four sides as well as protecting the nearby buildings," UConn spokesperson Stephanie Reitz said.

No one was injured in the blaze.

"Our UConn dairy cows and other animals are in barns elsewhere on Horsebarn Hill and aren't endangered, although we have taken precautions to ensure their safety," Reitz said.

Officials said the barn, which contained landscaping equipment, tools and office space, is a total loss. The cost of the damage has not been determined yet, but several vehicles and a street sweeper were destroyed.

"The building, which dates to 1922, is adjacent to the Dairy Bar and several other buildings, but those structures aren't involved. As of now, we expect the nearby buildings to be able to operate on their normal schedules today, including the Dairy Bar, although there may be the need for some detours or changes in parking areas closest to the fire scene," Reitz said.

Fire crews remain at the scene and are actively investigating the cause of the fire, with help from state police and the state fire marshal's office.

Officials said they do not know of any hazardous materials and they are checking for oil runoff from the equipment. They are also checking on water runoff from the fire.

"Given the fact that several buildings are clustered together there, it easily could have spread if not for their hard work and the early 911 calls we got from passing motorists who saw the flames and smoke from Route 195," Reitz said.

UConn will use private contractors to continue landscaping the campus. 

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