ROYAL CENTER — Firefighters extinguished a fully engulfed barn fire in rural Cass County Monday afternoon before flames got to several tanks containing explosive fuels.

Five fire departments responded to the blaze in the 9200 block of West 400 North southwest of Royal Center at about 2:50 p.m. Feb. 29.

A juvenile male was in the barn putting fuel in an all-terrain vehicle, according to Royal Center Fire Chief Ed Schroder. A spark then ignited the gas that had spilled onto the floor, Schroder continued. He declined to say what caused the spark.

Strong winds and the fire's rural location drove Schroder to ask several fire departments for assistance.

"There was a very heavy fire load, that was my concern," he said.

The barn housed several tanks containing fuels like propane and acetylene oxygen, which Schroder said is used in metalwork.

One of the tanks had a bulge and nearly experienced what Schroder called a BLEVE, or boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion.

"These become projectile missiles," Schroder said, referring to the charred tank.

Heat from outside the tank causes the fuel inside to expand, Schroder explained. If there's no way for it to vent, the tank will rupture and shoot off, he added.

"You never know what direction or where it's going to go," he said.

Schroder said firefighters attacked the blaze with water upon their arrival and set up a portable water tank nearby to maintain a constant flow.

As flames were extinguished, firefighters pulled down the barn's mangled metal walls off of smoldering wooden framing posts.

A pickup truck, lawn mowers and bicycles were among the contents destroyed in the blaze.

There was no damage to surrounding structures and no injuries.

Firefighters prepared to leave the scene at about 4:30 p.m.

Fire departments from Logansport, Georgetown, Cass County Fire District, Idaville and Burnettsville also responded.

Reach Mitchell Kirk at or 574-732-5130

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