Early-morning fire near Marengo destroys barn, kills chickens

Damage estimated at $125,000

MARENGO – George and Susan Standish's dog doesn't bark unless it's necessary.

On Tuesday morning, with the Standishes' Marengo barn ablaze and the nearby sky glowing red, the dog woke the Marengo couple at 5:30 a.m. to a demolished barn.

"She’s a good dog – she only barks when she has to," Susan said. "I woke up and looked out the bedroom window, and I thought, 'I’m dreaming.' "

Someone was pounding on the door. A passerby had called 911.

Marengo firefighters responded about 5:45 a.m. to the Standishes' farm on Dunham Road and Route 176 in Seneca Township for a reported structure fire, Marengo Fire Chief Robert Bradbury said.

George tried to open one of the barn doors to let some of the animals escape.

"Some did get out," Susan said.

It took firefighters about 90 minutes to get the fire under control, Bradbury said, and the large barn was destroyed. The barn had housed chickens and equipment, and the damage likely cost close to $125,000, officials said.

"[George] said there were a lot [of chickens] in there," Bradbury said.

The two farm grain for a living, and Susan said her husband enjoys keeping chickens as well as ducks. They had a barn fire about five years ago, but not on the scale of Tuesday's.

"After we lost them years ago, we got even more and built a bigger barn," Susan said.

There were no injuries aside from the ducks and chickens. The cause was undetermined Tuesday, Bradbury said.

"It’s pretty devastating,” Susan said. “We’re both in our 70s. I don’t think we’re going to try this again.”

She said the couple enjoyed staying active into their 70s because they did not want to "stop," despite their children telling them otherwise.

McHenry County Sheriff's deputies were at the scene investigating Tuesday.

Firefighters likely would need to return to extinguish the hay, which continued to smolder, Bradbury said.

Firefighters from Woodstock, Capron, Union and Harvard units assisted Marengo at the scene.

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