Eaton siblings, oil and gas worker help out in barn fire
Eaton Fire Protection District Chief Hugh Kane said hay fires are difficult to extinguish because the hay must be pulled apart and sprayed with water. Kane said the Greeley Department of Public Works provided a backhoe and an excavator for that purpose in the Nov. 21 fire.
Sam Beasley, 17, watched as Shawn McIntyre dug the prongs of the forklift into the chain-link fence and ripped it from the ground.
He could feel the heat of the fire swallowing the massive barn behind them, and he knew they needed to get the animals out. The entire building was burning, and there had even been a few explosions.
He and his sister, Michaela Beasley, 21, saw the blaze at 621 O. St. in Greeley, Colo., sometime before 3 a.m. Nov. 21. They were visiting their mom, who was working a graveyard shift at an Evans truck stop. They took U.S. 85 north on their way home to Eaton and when they saw the fire, decided to investigate.
When the siblings pulled up to the barn, there were no police or firefighters there. Sam got out of the car and started knocking on doors while Michaela called 911. When Sam got back to the barn, he and McIntyre — an oil and gas worker from a nearby well — woke the property’s tenants. Then they tried to help the animals escape.
“I ran around the back side of the barn, but they had a chain-link fence,” McIntyre said. “So I ran over, grabbed a forklift and pushed the forks through the fence.”
McIntyre said he knew how to operate a forklift because of his experience as an oil and gas worker. The fence came up without too much trouble, and he and Sam rushed inside to free the animals. They found three horses and a few dogs.
“The dogs were a piece of cake, but the horses were horrible,” Sam said. “We finally got the alpha horse and dragged her out and the rest followed.”
McIntyre and Sam let the horses run free, hoping their owner would find them in the morning. Without their help, the horses almost certainly would’ve died in the fire, which claimed the lives of 28 other animals — 25 goats, two pigs and one steer. According to Eaton Fire Protection District Chief Hugh Kane, firefighters found the barn fully stocked with hay, which provided a ready source of fuel for the fire. As of Tuesday evening, the cause of the fire remained under investigation, according to Deputy Fire Chief Matt Carey. Kane said the estimated loss from the livestock alone was $30,000.
After McIntyre and Sam freed all the animals they could, they started trying to save the property.
“I tried to move the tractor (on the property),” Sam said. “I didn’t know how to drive a tractor, but there was a key in the ignition.”
He turned the key, but the tractor didn’t start. He didn’t have much time either — the fire was getting worse.
“I said, ‘Nope, I’ve got to get out of here,’” Sam said.
Firefighters responded to Michaela’s call about 3 a.m. Kane said 24 firefighters responded and fought the fire for hours. The Eaton Fire Protection District responded with two vehicles, the Galeton Fire Protection District brought two. They fought what had the potential to become a serious ground-cover fire, spreading east while other crews worked to quell the original flames.
The Greeley Fire Department arrived, as well. Crews brought a tiller, which is a large truck, Kane said.
“They set up on the west side and provided an aerial master stream (of water) which was instrumental in putting out the haystack fire,” Kane said.
Sarah Beasley, Sam and Michaela’s mother, saw the tiller hours later as she drove home from work. By then, Sam and Michaela had left the scene. They had early mornings — Michaela had to work, and Sam, a senior at Eaton High School, had class.
“I am a proud mother of these two who weren’t asked to do something, but just did it,” Sarah said. ❖
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