Fire took down an iconic Central Whidbey barn Monday night, turning the historic structure into charred rubble.
Firefighters with Central Whidbey Fire & Rescue responded to a report of a house and barn fire shortly after 8 p.m. and arrived to find the Smith Barn on Ebey Road in Coupeville fully engulfed in flames.
Within 20 minutes, the entire structure had collapsed. The nearby farmhouse was not damaged.
The Smith Barn was an integral part of Georgie Smith’s Willowood Farm. It has been in the Smith family for more than a century and was one of Ebey Prairie’s most recognizable and photographed landmarks.
Charles Arndt, Smith’s husband, dislocated his shoulder while running from his home but everyone else in the family escaped harm.
Smith, a fourth-generation farmer, was attending a meeting with other farmers Monday night at the Pacific Rim Institute of Environmental Stewardship on Parker Road when she learned of the fire and rushed home.
“She said, ‘My barn’s on fire.’ She jumped up and ran out,” said Robert Pelant, chief executive officer of the Pacific Rim Institute. “We just were all sick.”
The fire’s orange glow could be seen from miles away. One firefighter with North Whidbey Fire and Rescue, which also responded, said they could see the glow from San de Fuca as they rushed along Highway 20.
To get water on the blaze, four fire tenders were used to bring water from Coupeville High School to the site since a fire hydrant was more than a mile away from the farm.
From Ebey Road, the water had to be pumped along a dirt driveway to an engine near the barn.
“It presented some challenges because it’s 1,000 feet from the road,” said Fire Chief Ed Hartin of Central Whidbey Fire & Rescue. “Being familiar with the location, I called in an additional engine from North Whidbey and an additional tender from North Whidbey.”
The fire burned so hot that a fence post 50 feet away was still burning an hour after the fire had started.
Hartin said the cause of the fire is unknown. Firefighters will remain onsite until daylight.