Fire destroyed a large hay barn and its contents west of Albion Friday, as well as damaging a second building.
Six fire departments combined forces to battle the blaze, which broke out on a farm at 3785 W 270 N. A neighbor noticed the fire and called it in at 11:22 a.m., and by then a large column of smoke could already be seen from miles away.
A child playing with matches is believed to have been the cause of the blaze.
Responders arrived to find a barn measuring about 40 by 100 feet engulfed in flames, which had begun spreading into a second, attached structure that itself was attached to a milkhouse. By taking hoses inside the second building firefighters were able to stop the spread of flames, saving the milkhouse and other nearby structures, although the attached building sustained heavy damage.
Cattle were moved out of harms way and no one, human or animal, was injured during the incident.
Equipment lost inside the burning structure included a tractor, bushhog, four hay wagons, and a large amount of hay and straw. The building's metal roof and walls collapsed, making it difficult to reach the blaze; heavy equipment was brought in by Forker's Excavating to pull the mounds of hay and straw apart, so firefighters could reach and extinguish the flames.
Other firefighters stood by downwind, where burning embers started several small spot fires in a hay field.
The fire was declared under control in about 35 minutes, but it took another three hours to finish extinguishing the stubborn blaze.
Two dozen emergency vehicles manned by about 40 firefighters were involved in the operation, including several tankers that shuttled water to the scene. The Albion, Cromwell, Kendallville, Ligonier, Noble Township, and Orange Township fire departments sent trucks and manpower to the scene; the Churubusco, Johnson Township, North Webster provided standby units at empty fire stations.
Also assisting at the scene were the Noble County EMS and Sheriff's Department, Noble REMC, and Mick Newton of the Noble County Emergency Management Agency.
All that remains of a tractor, once the barn it was in burned away. This gave us the duel fun of fighting a structure fire and vehicle fire at the same time.
Heavy equipment was used to break apart two piles of hay and straw bales, stacked to the roof -- when there was a roof.
You might think a metal building would be less of a problem than wood in a fire, but it just meant more danger from collapse and having to move the twisted sheet metal in order to get to the flames.
Smoke? Yeah, we got smoke.
A four wheel drive brush truck is stationed downwind of the fire, where burning embers caused several spot fires in a hay field.