Fire destroys historic farmhouse at Schnepf Farms in Queen Creek

Carrie Schnepf tries to salvage some photos and documents from her office after the fire (Arianna Grainey/Independent Newspapers)

Carrie Schnepf tries to salvage some photos and documents from her office after the fire Dec. 11 at Schnepf Farms in Queen Creek. (Arianna Grainey/Independent Newspapers)

 

A historic farmhouse at Schnepf Farms in Queen Creek was destroyed by a fire early Dec. 11. Despite the loss, the agricultural landmark will be open for business today, owners Carrie and Mark Schnepf said.

“The farm will be open. The country store, breakfast, train rides, U-pick garden and petting zoo will all be open today. Breakfast with Santa is still happening tomorrow. However, we have no idea who is coming so please come and be patient as we check you in. We look forward to seeing you,” Mrs. Schnepf posted online this morning, noting the devastating loss.

Click here to read earlier story.

Thirty firefighters from the Queen Creek, Gilbert, Mesa and Apache Junction/Gold Canyon fire departments responded to the farm near Rittenhouse and Cloud roads after a person driving in the area called in the fire, Jennifer Thomas, a journalist with CBS5 News, a news media partner with Independent newspapers, reported. The fire had burned through the roof when the first crew arrived on the scene, she said.

Mrs. Schnepf said the farmhouse where weddings and events are held caught fire. The building also houses her office.

“Today is the worst morning of my life. Twenty-five years of my life’s blood is in this building,” she said in a tweet around 4:30 a.m.

Mr. Schnepf said they believe the fire started in Mrs. Schnepf’s office, but the cause is unknown at this time.

Mr. Schnepf said his parents built the farmhouse in the 1950s. He grew up in it and he and Mrs. Schnepf raised their kids there.

He said half of the building is gutted and the other half has smoke damage, but they plan to rebuild as soon as they can.

Mrs. Schnepf posted this on the Schnepf Farm Facebook page:

“Good morning! I woke up to a phone call that my office was on fire. This is what I saw. The farmhouse and my office engulfed. The farmhouse was built by Ray and Thora Schnepf in the ‘50s. Mark was raised there and so were our kids.

“First thoughts are what are we going to do? Well, 25 years of records, photos, computers, budgets, supplies ….basically everything that had to do with entertainment on the farm is gone. Nothing is salvageable. The portion of the farmhouse where the bridal suite is has considerable smoke damage.

“What can you do? Regroup, rebuild and move on. For me, I am going to take a day to process. I won’t be baking this morning. I am sitting in the orchard listening to news copters overhead and seeing flashing lights from fire trucks news live trucks and trying to grasp what is happening… .

“We will rebuild the farmhouse. We have brides who love our farm and have chosen it as the location to be married.

“Things will get better. Thank you for the kind thoughts.”

Carrie Schnepf carries a pile of papers and documents out of the remains of her office. (Arianna Grainey/Independent Newspapers)

Carrie Schnepf carries a pile of papers and documents out of the remains of her office. (Arianna Grainey/Independent Newspapers)

In a separate post, Mrs. Schnepf said no one was injured. She also acknowledged the first responders who helped put out the fire. They were Queen Creek Fire & Medical, Gilbert Fire and Rescue, Mesa Fire and Medical Department and Superstition Fire & Medical District.

The majority of the original structure of the farmhouse is a total loss, Queen Creek Councilman Jeff Brown posted online. He said the west end of the building — the newer portion — has damage but appears salvageable. Councilman Brown asks the public to reach out to the Schnepf family via their Facebook page or to stop in this weekend to show their support.

“Their family began farming here 75 years ago. Mark, of course, served as our first mayor in 1989 upon our town’s incorporation. Schnepf Farms, of course, is a giant part of who we are as a town,” Councilman Brown posted online.

Well-wishers have been posting their support on the farm’s Twitter page @Schnepf_Farms.

“We have been going there for 15 years. Carrie personally let my little girls in one time when u were closed.” Alan Rudolph wrote.

“I am so sorry to see this. If there’s anything any of us can do to help, just say the word,” Maria Flores wrote.

Editor’s note: Through partnership Independent Newspapers is publishing information provided by CBS 5 News. The story can be found here: http://www.cbs5az.com/story/30723304/fire-destroys-farmhouse-at-schnepf-farms#ixzz3u22ORvdh

News Editor Wendy Miller can be contacted at 480-982-7799 and via e-mail at qcnews@newszap.com, or follow her on Twitter @WendyNewszap123.

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