BELMONT – No people or animals were hurt when a two-alarm fire destroyed most of a "pig barn" behind the home of Everett Weeks, the owner of one of the town?s largest farms.
But when Weeks' barn at 41 Depot St. burned on Sunday, a historic treasure was lost. The barn, at 41 Depot St., was built in 1909 and was the former Belmont Woodworking plant, a key part of the town's downtown historic district, according to family members and town historians.
"It was called Depot Street for a reason. The trains used to come in by that barn and the Belmont Mill," said Linda Frawley of the Belmont Heritage Commission.
Weeks and family members were in his small home about 100 feet from the barn when a passerby knocked on the door just before noon.
"He said the barn was on fire," said Amanda Tatro, who identified herself as a family member.
Fire Chief David Parenti said when crews arrived the barn was fully engulfed.
"There was an exposure of the fire to the main house and in another direction, so when we got here we focused on cutting the fire off," he said. "I'd say it was a good save."
The fire was likely fueled by stored hay in the barn.
"Putting out hay is a real beast, and there was roughly 2,000 bales of hay in there," Parenti said. Fire crews stood by a loader Sunday afternoon pouring water on hay as the machine pulled the bales from the rubble of the barn.
The barn normally housed pigs, family members said, but it had no electricity and only cats were living there when the fire occurred. The cats probably escaped and will return, family members said.
The cause is under investigation, Parenti said.
"All we know is it seems to have started in the basement," he said.
Fire crews from Belmont were joined by firefighters from Barnstead, Concord, Gilford, Gilmanton, Laconia, Loudon, Sanbornton, and Tilton-Northfield. By 3 p.m., the fire was under control, though Depot Street was closed for most of Sunday afternoon by police.