For years, Dan Church could look out from his family's Whiteford home and see the two-story wooden barn where he and his relatives raised animals and played as children.
On Saturday afternoon, however, he stood looking at a smoldering wreck.
"It's weird, looking down here and seeing nothing," Church, 27, said while gathered with family at the edge of the collapsed barn, now a pile of blackened wood, singed metal farming equipment and a few standing timbers. "Our whole lives were here."
His father Roger, the homeowner, inspected the remains of the barn, along with an investigator with the Office of the State Fire Marshal, as firefighters from volunteer companies in Harford and York counties soaked down hot spots that were still smoking.
Fire companies were alerted around 3:45 p.m. Saturday for a working building fire in the 4100 block of Prospect Road east of Whiteford, according to monitored Harford County emergency radio dispatches.
Medical units also were summoned to the scene, which is not far from the Pennsylvania state line; a fire official at the scene said there were no injuries, however.
The two-story barn was on a residential property near the intersection of Delp and Prospect Roads.
Roads leading to the fire scene were blocked off and tanker trucks were called from both sides of the border, according to the dispatches.
Daniel Lemmon, safety officer for the Whiteford Volunteer Fire Company, said no civilians or firefighters were injured, and no animals were in the barn. He pointed out siding on the nearby house that had partially melted from the heat.
The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Fire Marshal's Office, Lemmon said.
Lemmon said water was also pulled from a nearby creek running through the property.
Personnel from Whiteford, Darlington, Delta-Cardiff of Delta, Pa., Bel Air, Jarrettsville and Norrisville responded.
Dan Church pointed out the sections of the barn where animals had lived, and where feed and farm tools had been stored.
He said the types of animals varied, from horses to goats, even peacocks.
"It was home to a lot of different animals," Church said.
Roger Church said he was in Aberdeen running an errand when a neighbor called about the fire.
Chuck Mohr, a firefighter and EMT with Whiteford, who lives up the hill from the Church family, was the first to spot the smoke and called the incident in while driving to the scene.
"I saw some smoke while I was cutting my grass," he recalled.
Mohr said the fire was coming through the roof when he arrived, and saw the building collapse soon after.
He said the flames consumed the building, and burned surrounding trees and a patch of grass on the hill behind the barn, along with damaging the exterior of the family house.
Mohr said brought an elderly woman, who was the only one home at the time of the fire, to safety. She was not injured.
"I can't thank you enough," Roger Church told Mohr. "Who knows what could have happened?"
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