Two barns destroyed in farm fire

FEARING TOWNSHIP – No people or animals were injured when two barns and several pieces of farm equipment were destroyed by fire on a farm at 640 Stanleyville Narrows Road around 8:15 p.m. Saturday.

“The farm foreman had apparently just fed the cows, but they were outside the barns when the fire broke out,” said Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks.

Farm manager Larry Landis, who lives on the property, told deputies he had been in the barn feeding the cows about an hour before the fire began, but had then driven into town on an errand.

When he returned the barns were ablaze.

“The large barn was fully involved when we arrived at the scene – you could see the boards inside glowing red,” said Jeff Lauer, chief of the Fearing Township Volunteer Fire Department.

Lauer said firefighters concentrated on saving a second, smaller barn located nearby that suffered some damage due to radiant heat from the fully-engulfed larger barns. Silos standing next to the burning barns were also damaged.

Several other buildings, including the farm manager’s house, were located not far from the blaze. Lauer said there was some concern for those facilities as high winds were blowing sparks and embers into the air from the burning barns.

Firefighters stayed on the scene through most of the night.

“There were about 360 large bales of hay, four tractors, mowers, an (all-terrain vehicle) and other farm equipment inside,” Mincks said Sunday. “The fire was of undetermined origin, and the state fire marshal’s office is expected to investigate by Tuesday.”

He said the property is owned by local businessman John Lehman, who was out of town when the fire occurred. No official estimate of the damage was available Sunday.

Bales of hay were still smoldering and flames had rekindled in a small outbuilding near the road late Sunday morning.

Lauer said the hay – mostly rolled into round bales – could continue to smolder for a couple of days, and firefighters would continue to keep an eye out for any hot spots.