(This is a developing story)
(Photo submitted by Jim Zimmerman, Apple Creek Fire Dept.)
APPLE CREEK, Ohio — A fire destroyed a bank barn and its contents Tuesday morning, Feb. 5 along Ely Road in Wayne County. The loss is estimated to top $300,000.
Several pieces of farm equipment and tractors were destroyed, along with about 1,500 large square bales of hay. Sources at the scene believed four cattle were also lost in the blaze.
The barn was owned by Tom Stoll, who lived in a neighboring house and had been renting the barn and other buildings to another farmer, Don Schott.
Stoll said he was about to leave his house for a trip to town, when he noticed what appeared to be trash burning. But once he saw “a big flame shoot up” into the sky, he knew something was wrong.
Stoll called 9-1-1 and at 8:36 a.m. Apple Creek Fire Department got the call of a barn fire.
Jim Zimmerman, a lieutenant with the department, said it was “fully involved” upon arrival and the focus was mainly on protecting other buildings and removing farm equipment.
Several pieces were saved from the barn, as cleanup crews worked to sort through the debris with trackhoes, pulling entrapped equipment out with tractors and log chains. At least two skid loaders were burned, as well as one large tractor with a cab.
The cause of the fire was undetermined, but Stoll said investigators speculated it could have been an electrical box that overheated.
The original part of the barn was estimated to be more than 100 years old, Stoll said. It was the first structure fire he had experienced as owner of the 270-plus-acre farm.
Stoll said he carried insurance on the barn, but it was very basic. He is unsure what the total cost will be or how he will proceed.
In addition to the structure, he will lose what had been a steady source of income.
“I had been renting this out as a source of income but now I won’t get anything out of it,” he said.
Mutual aid was provided by fire departments from Central Fire, Kidron, Wooster Township, Fredericksburg, Orrville and Mount Eaton.
Cool temperatures in the 20s and some new snow on the ground made the job noticeably difficult, but emergency personnel said conditions could have been much worse.