SALEM, Ohio – When Raymond Bricker found his barn ablaze shortly after noon June 17, he thought the structure could be saved.
He was wrong, thanks in part to an argument between fire departments on who was responsible for protecting his property.
The 36-by-48 pole building on the farm where Bricker grew up off North Lincoln Avenue in Salem was a complete loss.
Also lost were approximately 200 small square bales of rye straw Bricker’s son and an employee were offloading inside the building when the blaze erupted.
Bricker said he thinks a spark off a bale wagon or other piece of equipment started the fire.
About the structure. The barn was constructed in 1966 to fumigate hay, Bricker said.
The barn was a favorite on the farm because it was large enough to fit semi tractor-trailers and bale wagons inside for loading and unloading. Bricker is a hay and straw broker.
Conflict. Bricker, who was at home in Mahoning County just a few miles away when he got word of the fire around noon, dialed 911. He said the call was diverted to a call center in Mahoning County, and that operator said she couldn’t help him.
Another call to the Salem City Fire Department offered more angst when the operator there said the barn was not within city limits and therefore not under the city fire department’s protection.
The farm property, along U.S. Route 62 on Salem’s north side, was annexed to the city a few years ago, Bricker said.
Salem City Fire Department’s fire chief, Walt Greenamyer, defended his dispatcher’s reaction to the call June 19 by saying his department was never notified the property had been annexed into the city.
Response. Perry Township’s fire department responded to the blaze, assisted by trucks from Damascus and Green Township.
“The volunteers were really good, but by the time they get to the station and get to the trucks, it was too late,” Bricker said.
“When I got there, it probably could have been saved, but with all [the confusion] … There’s not time to hear ‘We can’t help you,'” he said.
Cleaning up. Bricker said the entire structure was leveled within an hour and, by 4 p.m., he and others had pulled tin sheeting from the rubble and began the cleanup.
“There were no injuries, and that’s what’s important. As long as no one is hurt, we can rebuild,” Bricker said.
He said, however, that with Salem’s growth and the barn’s location, there are no immediate plans to rebuild. The structure was insured.
(Reporter Andrea Myers welcomes reader feedback by phone at 800-837-3419 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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