Farm owner describes barn fire as 'painful loss'

Firefighters work to inspect the remains of the barn for hot spots on Sunday. (Provided)

WALTERBORO, S.C. (WCIV) -- "I ran back in and tried. My goal was to get all of them, but I could only get another handful out the door," Annie Filion said.

The Walterboro farmer owns Keegan-Filion Farm where she raises turkeys, hogs, and chickens. But, Sunday, she was fighting to save the nearly 100 baby turkeys in her burning barn.

"At that time it was getting way too smoky and it was really black smoke and I could hear crackling over my head, so I was like, 'I need to get out of here,'" she said.

Filion managed to save nine turkeys and said it's a painful loss.

"I couldn't even think about it because if I do, I start crying. I can't think about what they were going through and how they were feeling," Filion said

Filion also lost one of her prized possessions on the farm, the barn her grandfather built nearly 80 years ago.

"The building had the one last thing that my grandfather had his hands on and now that's gone and there's no way of getting that back," she said.

According to the fire officials, about 70 percent of the barn was engulfed in flames and light winds pushed the flames about 30 feet from the building, which came close to a propane tank.{}

Chief Barry McRroy with the Colleton County Fire-Rescue Department said the barn burned quickly as crews worked to extinguish flames and prevent the spread of devastation.

"The fire people, if they had been another minute or two later, it would have been a really bad story, because I had just filled that (the propane tank) up Friday," Filion said.

"One of the owners advised she was making early morning rounds to check on the livestock when she noticed smoke coming from the barn," McRoy said. "On inspection she discovered a heating lamp had fallen over igniting the saw dust on the floor."

The fire started after a light fell over and ignited the saw dust on the floor, according to Filion, who will now have to work fast to get her turkey production back up. The farm is well known to the Lowcountry restaurant community. Restaurants like Fat Hen on Johns Island purchase chickens year-round from the farm. Filion says they must rebuild the barn before January, when they place the orders in for a new group of baby turkeys. They would be expected to arrive in March and be ready for Thanksgiving.