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January 3, 2013

Fire destroys dairy barn on U.S. 35

Farm waits on insurance claim before deciding whether to resume crop farming.

LOGANSPORT — A Logansport dairy farm is waiting on insurance claims after a barn fire destroyed its farming equipment.

Six fire departments responded to the barn fire at 1212 North U.S. 35 Saturday afternoon. The fire did not disrupt the production of dairy, but co-owner Ed McKaig said they would wait on insurance claims before deciding whether to continue crop farming.

Among the items destroyed in the barn were two farm trucks, two tractors, a combine, a wind power generator and lawn mowers.

The Cass County Fire District, Lucerne Volunteer Fire Department, Royal Center Fire Department, Clymers, Georgetown and Logansport Fire Departments responded to the scene of the barn fire at Chapelview Dairy Farm.

Rex Danely, District Lieutenant and firefighter with the Cass County Fire District, said when they drove towards the fire, they could only see smoke when they were close to the property.

“We started seeing the smoke then,” Danely said. “It was a light gray smoke.”

By the time they got to the property, the smoke had turned black, he said. Then about 30 seconds after Danely had hooked up the hose, he said there was a large explosion as the fire reached either oil, propane or rubber tires.

Danely said the fire is believed to have begun in the overhead lighting of the barn. It then spread to the machinery beneath and to the approximately 50 square bales of hay in the barn, Danely said.

The fire district was at the scene of the fire from 3:49 p.m. until about 8 p.m., but Danely said they had the fire mostly contained in one hour.

“I think we pretty much had it under control within 45 minutes,” Danely said.

The rest of the time was spent putting out remaining fire spots and spreading out the hay to look for fire.

Danely said the farm building was demolished by the fire and what was left standing was knocked down as firefighters worked to get closer to the fire.

McKaig said he first heard about the fire from college students who were working on the farm. They went down to the barn and tried to extinguish the fire, but couldn’t get close to the flames.

“We couldn’t even get inside,” McKaig said. “It was pretty hot already.”

The fire was located in the equipment barn, but the barn with the cattle remained intact, so McKaig said he went to check on the cows while the firefighters worked.

“I’d already gone to start milking while they were fighting the fire,” McKaig said.

McKaig and the students did try to move a tractor out of the flames to get to other equipment, but the tractor would not start.

The destroyed equipment, which McKaig estimated to be at least $250,000, may affect the farming of the 500 to 600 acres of crops.

But McKaig said they would decide later whether to proceed with the farming based on an insurance estimate and an investigation on the fire Friday.

“We’ll just see what the fire investigator says and go from there,” McKaig said.  

Caitlin Huston is a staff reporter of the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5148 or caitlin.huston@pharostribune.com.

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