Watchtower Farms’ sawmill goes up in flames

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SHAWANGUNK – Fire departments from three counties Ulster, Sullivan and Orange – spent most of Friday afternoon at Watchtower Farms in the Town of Shawangunk fighting a blaze that destroyed the sawmill that was filled with wood stored for the farm’s agricultural operation, officials said.

The fire quickly consumed the structure and the materials inside.

The building was located in the middle of a snow-covered field about a mile from the main office and residential complex, making it difficult to reach. Firefighters had to make several runs to truck in water to quell the flames. Once they were doused, think light gray smoke rose into the sky.

“There is no indication of injury to either people or livestock and all Watchtower personnel on site have been accounted for,” according to a statement from the Jehovah’s Witnesses, which owns and operates the huge farm.

A fire official on the scene said the cause of the blaze was under investigation.

The sawmill dates back to the late 1960s and has been used to support the operations of Watchtower Farms and other Watchtower facilities in the Town of Shawangunk.