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JOHNSTOWN, Ohio — Two Central Ohio men are dead after a poultry barn where they were working collapsed on them Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 4.
Joseph Dixon, 33, of Newark, and Kevin Maddox, 25, of Columbus, were both working on a renovation project at an Ohio Fresh Eggs location near Johnstown, when strong winds caused severe damage to multiple barns.
Officials say as many as 15 workers initially were trapped in the building, with all but the two making it out, mostly unharmed.
“Our top priority is the families of the (deceased) workers and all the farm workers,” said the farm’s spokesperson, Hinda Mitchell, just hours after the accident.
About a dozen fire departments responded to the scene, as well as specialists with Central Ohio Strike Team — a regional group of rescue personnel specially trained to handle large-scale catastrophes.
Fire Chief Dudley Wright, of the Monroe Township Fire Department, said the two men had died before officials were able to reach them. The roof in the barn where they were working collapsed, essentially causing a “pancake” effect.
Madison Township Fire Department Capt. Larry Thomas said the Strike Team “has equipment standing by and ready to go for incidences like yesterday.”
Other area departments assisted the strike team, he said, in making their jobs easier and supplying their needs.
The same company suffered a severe fire in March, at its location in Wyandot County. More than 100 firefighters responded to that incident.
The Wilmington office of the National Weather Service reports that “an extremely unstable airmass developed on the afternoon of August 4, with temperatures in the low to mid 90s and dewpoints in the mid to upper 70s.”
This airmass set the stage for very strong thunderstorms during the afternoon, which produced widespread wind damage across western and central Ohio, the worst damage occurring in Licking County.
A second round of severe thunderstorms swept through Indiana and Ohio during the evening hours, resulting in several reports of wind damage across eastern Indiana, the Miami Valley and parts of central Ohio.
This and more storm photos available at National Weather Service, Wilmington, Ohio office.