Smith Barn Fire at Willowood Farm Photo Essay by David Stern

The rubble and destruction caused by Monday night's fire is still smoking in some places. Aside from a few steel tools that may have survived, everything in the barn is completely destroyed. These photos are heartbreaking and I debated whether or not to compose this photo essay. I would rather focus on positive things and not take advantage of someone's misfortune to get my photos seen. My wife Madisun convinced me to post these so that others can learn how much work is ahead of Willowood Farm, and how volunteers can help when the call comes.
I had the opportunity to work for The Burning Man Festival for many years and when I got the call from my neighbor to look out the window, I felt like I was in a dream and had been transported back into the desert for a grand display of fire, heat, and pyrotechnics. Only this wasn't fantasy. This was my friend's and neighbor's livelihood and an historic landmark being destroyed in front of my eyes.
Nothing left but the shell of machinery and burned wood.
The delivery van looks like a bomb went off inside of it. This van was one of the most essential tools of Willowood Farm, making the weekly deliveries to Seattle.
The old chain hoist that used to live high in the rafters, now resting on mangled bicycle wheels that had been for sale in the barn the weekend before.
Thousands of pounds of radishes and beets were roasted (destroyed) while waiting to be delivered to chefs in the region
Some of the tools and tractors that were lost Monday night.
The Smith house in the background still miraculously standing. If the wind had shifted, the farmhouse would have been destroyed for sure.
"When we first looked out the window it looked like the house AND barn were on fire. I jumped on the phone and called 911 and told them the house and barn were on fire. The dispatcher replied, "the house is NOT on fire". -Dale Sherman
Hand hewn timbers held with wooden joinery
Fence posts bent from the heat of the blaze
Hand forged nails and 100+ year old timbers
Historically, Smith Barn used to house horses and cattle in the ranching days. Fortunately no human or animal was injured in this blaze.
Part of the roof which had been upgraded to steel in 2012
Bill's Thresher. An essential tool for the annual Rockwell Bean harvest.
The back of the semi truck. The cab is completely melted off.
Piles of twisted rubble will have to be removed before anyone can safely enter
An amazing 100+ year old beam still standing
A lone steel support survived the intense heat, leaving a drape of roofing hanging
The crew foosball table. "it's still good"
Equipment buried in burned wood, destroyed electrical, and melted tires
Roofing steel folded like paper. The heat of the blaze left puddles of molten aluminum in various places around the debris pile.
Panorama looking West at the wall that was viewable from HWY 20.
Panorama looking South along the edge closest to the bluff trail.
Heat so intense it cracked stones in the nearby drainage ditch
Nothing left of the delivery van tires except the steel radials
The first new piece of the barn brings hope and clean water to the temporary produce washing station enabling harvesting to continue while plans are being made on how to rebuild.

Copyright 2017. Photos by David Stern. Whidbey Custom Photography

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David Stern


Photography by David Stern

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