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Farmhouse damaged in fire will be razed

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 October 2015 at 12:00 am

Grand structure was year-round residence for 6 farmworkers

ALBION – The fire that badly damaged a grand old house on Route 98 has displaced six year-round farmworkers for Watt Farms and will also result in the building being razed, said Karen Watt, co-owner of the Watt Farms with her husband Chris.

The fire broke out at about 2 p.m. on Sunday in a house owned by Watt Farms at 3161 Oak Orchard Rd. The house is the year-round residence for six workers. Some of the workers lost their possessions during the fire, Watt said.

The Red Cross paid for them to stay at Dollinger’s Motel last night. Watt Farms will move them to a seasonal housing for the short-term. Watt said she is working on housing for the winter, as well as clothing and other supplies for the workers.

They are the core members of the farm’s work crew, with some of them working for Watt for 20 years.

“We’re trying to figure out what to do,” she said. “That was their home, but it would be cost prohibitive to fix it.”

Here is how the house looks this afternoon, a day after the fire. A new metal roof had recently been put on the house.

The red brick house was built about 150 years ago with additions to follow. It had “a beautiful staircase and woodwork,” Watt said.

Fire investigators told her it looks like an electrical fire triggered the blaze.

The building will be knocked down. It was part of the former Harding farm.

“It’s really too bad,” Watt said.

Albion firefighter James Fisher was one of the first on the scene. He sprays water on the fire yesterday afternoon. Watt said the fire destroyed the framework for the brick house.