Six fire departments battle manure barn fire

Rachel Mummey/The Herald
Smoke rose from a manure storage barn that caught fire Thursday at Skyview Farms near Haysville.

By BILL POWELL
Herald Staff Writer

HAYSVILLE — Six fire departments banded together Thursday when a manure storage barn caught fire at Skyview Farms, 2963 E. 725N.

The farm northeast of Haysville raises layer hens for Wabash Valley Produce, which owns the farm, according to Zach Eichmiller, a spokesman for the Dubois Volunteer Fire Department.

A spontaneous combustion of manure is thought to have been the cause of the 11:12 a.m. fire in the 50-by-100 building. Eichmiller said the building was used to store manure from two larger barns that were about 100 feet to each side of it.

The barn north of the burning building did not have any birds in it Thursday but the barn to the south was full of hens.

“The main objective upon arriving at the scene was to protect the buildings used to raise the birds, as heavy smoke was billowing out from the eves along the entire barn involved in the fire,” Eichmiller said.

The farm is on the line separating the service territories of the Dubois department and the Haysville Volunteer Fire Department. Trucks from those two agencies were the first on the scene.

The first-arriving firefighters immediately called for tanker assistance, which was provided by the Celestine and Ireland fire departments from Dubois County, the Orange County Rural Fire Department from Orange County, and the Lost River Township Volunteer Fire Department from Lost River Township in Martin County.

Simple Transport, of Dubois, also assisted with two semi tankers.

A Knies Construction trackhoe was brought to the scene to help tear down what was left of the manure barn so flames could be extinguished.

Memorial Hospital Emergency Medical Services arrived and assisted in cooling firefighters during what was already a hot day even before the fire. Dubois Fire Chief Steve Kalb said the EMS crew did a superb job keeping firefighters safe.

No firefighters were injured and all of the poultry at the farm was saved.

Kalb estimated the loss of the destroyed barn at between $150,000 and $200,000. But, he added, the fire departments’ efforts saved other structures that were valued in the millions of dollars.

Dubois’ department responded with three trucks and 27 firefighters. Haysville was on the scene with three trucks and 12 firefighters. The other departments sent tankers and manpower. Kalb said a total of 51 firefighters participated.

Units were on the scene for five hours and 15 minutes.

The Dubois Rural Electric Cooperative also assisted.

Contact Bill Powell at bpowell@dcherald.com.