A Bigfork farm family lost all of their tools, welding equipment and some farm machinery in a Dec. 5 fire that destroyed a large workshop.
Ferndale, Creston and Bigfork fire departments responded to the blaze after it was reported about 8:30 p.m. at the Gordon Farm on Mud Lake Road. The building was fully engulfed when firefighters arrived, and was a total loss. Bigfork Fire Chief Mark Thiry said the cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Suppression units remained at the scene until midnight, and some firefighters stayed until the next morning, Thiry said.
Julie DeShazer said her family estimates the loss at more than $500,000. The tools and equipment had been used and collected through the years by three generations of the Gordon family.
A Ford 4000 tractor, grain drill and welder were among the items that were destroyed, along with a number of antique tools.
DeShazer’s parents, Alvin and Mavis Gordon, farmed the land for years. Alvin died in 2013. His father, Chet Gordon, farmed it before him. Now Alvin and Gordon’s son David DeShazer, and his two sons, David Jr. and Cody, farm the land.
Mavis said she heard a small explosion and immediately feared David and her grandsons were in the workshop, formerly a combine shed, when it caught fire.
“They usually work until all hours, and they had been making some Christmas presents, that was their latest thing,” she said. “That big building, this is where they worked on equipment. They’re constantly fixing, and David welds out there.”
Already in her pajamas, Mavis grabbed a coat and headed outside when she realized the building was on fire.
“All I could do was run around and count heads,” she said.
Thankfully, no one was in the building at the time of the fire.
“I was afraid the barn was going to catch fire,” Mavis said. “It’s full of hay.”
Mavis, 72, said the trauma of the evening landed her at the doctor’s office the next day. “My blood pressure went out of sight,” she said.
The Gordons once raised grain on the farm but now grow hay on the acreage.
Neither the shed nor its contents were insured, she said, because the premiums were too expensive.
“We’re far from being rich people,” she added.
Julie DeShazer has set up an online GoFundMe page to raise money to replace some of the lost tools; go to www.gofundme/gordonfarm, or call her at 406-309-1089 if you can help.
Features editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or firstname.lastname@example.org.