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Fire at Deer Hill Ranch

By asoglin
Sunday, July 29th, 2007 at 4:00 pm in Lafayette.

Our reporter went out to the scene of a fire at Deer Hill Ranch this morning, and filed this story …

By Dogen Hannah
TIMES STAFF WRITER
A fire destroyed two buildings, about 50 young chickens and decades of agricultural history at a small Lafayette ranch Sunday morning.

Firefighters extinguished the 6:57 a.m. fire at Deer Hill Ranch, 3232 Deer Hill Road, in about 45 minutes, according to a Contra Costa County Fire District official.

No one was injured, but the flames consumed two small barn-like buildings, along with the buildings’ contents, and scorched grass on an adjacent hillside.

The fire’s cause was under investigation.

The nonprofit ranch provides children and adults with the opportunity to experience life on a small, working farm. It also teaches visitors about historical and modern agricultural practices.

“For a small nonprofit like us, this (fire) is a huge blow,” said Alex Morrison, ranch administrator.

One destroyed building, a brooder house, contained about 50 chickens being raised to join the ranch’s free-range flock, Morrison said. It and the second building, used as a classroom, also contained a large collection of antique agricultural implements and furniture.

“It’s all gone,” Morrison said.

The charred remains of butter churners, cream holders, a pie safe, a cider press and other antiques littered the fire site Sunday afternoon. A fire district official estimated the value of the burned buildings and contents at $55,000.

The fire spared other livestock, including ponies, donkeys, goats, sheep and rabbits. “They certainly had a rough day, and they’re on edge, but none of them was hurt,” Morrison said.

Anne Holding, the ranch’s director for farm animal programs, said the she already had begun to make plans to rebuild.

“We teach resilience here,” Holding said. “Hopefully, it will be an opportunity for the community to come together to do a barn-raising.”

Reach Dogen Hannah at 925-945-4794 or dhannah@cctimes.com.

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