A historic Epsom home on a farm that has been in the town fire chief’s family for more than 150 years was destroyed in a four-alarm blaze yesterday.
When firefighters responded about 3:45 a.m., Chief Stewart Yeaton said he made the call to cut off the blaze at the spot where it would have spread from the house to an attached barn.But in doing so, the crews were forced to push the flames back into the home at 358 Black Hall Road, rendering it a total loss, according to Yeaton, whose grandfather was born at the farm and whose relatives still live there.
After the embers had died out, all that remained beside the barn were charred beams and four blackened chimneys, one toppled to the side.
“As the chief I have to make that decision, what we’re going to do. Once you make it you’re stuck with that decision,” Yeaton said, calling it an “emotional” morning.
The property is owned by Eric Reeves, according to tax records. Two residents at home during the fire were woken up by smoke detectors and not injured, according to Bob Reeves, a relative who lives across the street. They declined to speak with theMonitoryesterday.
The homestead, which relatives say operated as a dairy farm until the 1970s, is known by most as the Maurice “Pete” Yeaton farm. It’s named after the great-great grandson of William Yeaton, who settled in the area around 1790, according to local historian T.J. Rand. He said the home was likely built by Pete Yeaton’s grandfather in about 1850 or 1860.
Pete Yeaton’s daughter, 83-year-old Glenna Nutter, heard about the fire yesterday afternoon, and quickly, memories of the place surfaced.
Like her grandmother, a “kindly, little lady,” baking cookies and custards in the kitchen. And her father milking cows in the barn as Gabirel Heatter offered his catchphrase - “There’s good news tonight.” - for his war-weary radio audience. And the hurricane of 1938 tipping over the beautiful poplar trees that once lined the road.
In the fall, Nutter’s brothers helped pull up the golden corn stalks left after the harvest. They fermented the cuttings, then pushed that silage into the silo where it would feed the animals through the winter.
That silo, with its eight even sides, is still standing after yesterday’s fire, as is the barn.Reeves said his relatives will likely rebuild the home.
It took responders, who were fighting against high winds yesterday, four hours to contain the blaze and more than six hours to clear the scene, according to the fire chief. He said the blazedoesn’tappear to be suspicious, and the fire marshal is still investigating the cause.
(Tricia L. Nadolny can be reached at 369-3306 firstname.lastname@example.org.)