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Rocky Ridge Barn burning
 destroys a bit of agricultural heritage

James Rada, Jr.

(10/1) Frederick County is slowly losing a part of its agricultural heritage as classic wooden barns disappear. Some burn down and others simply decay with age. And while some are replaced with newer structures, the new barns simply don't have the same details.

The most-recent loss happened in Rocky Ridge on Sept. 14. An old bank barn burned down on the 13800 block of Motters Station Road. Units from Rocky Ridge, Emmitsburg, Thurmont, Graceham, New Midway, Woodsboro, Libertytown, Frederick and Walkersville responded. However, by the time they arrived the barn was fully involved with fire. The barn, its contents and a nearby camper were lost with damages estimated at $500,000. One firefighter received a minor burn to the neck and was treated at the scene.

"It's a shame to see something like that go," said Rocky Ridge Fire Chief Steve Whetzel.

The Frederick County Fire Marshal's Office believe the fire to be accidental, but the cause is still unknown. Owner Glenn Rickard of Thurmont said his tenant on the farm had been burning out yellowjackets four hours before the fire.

"He swears there was no fire when he left," Rickard said of the tenant. "He says he filled in the hole and there was no smoke, but maybe something was smoldering or maybe a bee caught on fire and flew away and died. I don't know."

Rickard owned the barn since 1952 and used it mainly for storage for the last 20 years. He plans to build a barn on the old foundation, but it won't be the same type of barn.

"You can't build barns like that anymore," Rickard said. "It had wooden pins instead of nails and hand sawed beams."