500 hay bales, equipment lost in barn fires

Photos by Sarah Ann Jump/The Herald
Ernie Betz, left, and his son Michael Betz, both of Celestine, watched as smoke rose from where a hay barn stood before it caught fire Tuesday afternoon at the farm belonging to Ernie’s nephew, Mark Betz, of Celestine. Fire departments from Celestine and Schnellville responded to the blaze, which destroyed two structures and kept fire personnel on the scene for more than five hours.


CELESTINE — A fire Tuesday afternoon destroyed two barns and their contents south of Celestine.

Celestine Volunteer Fire Department Chief Ryan Wineinger was driving in the area of Celestine Road South, saw smoke and, knowing no controlled burns had been called in, investigated to find the hay barn fire at Mark and Laura Betz’s 1611 S. Celestine Road South property at 2:32 p.m.

Wineinger immediately requested mutual aid from the Schnellville Volunteer Fire Department because of the property’s location and the size of the fire. If not for a pond on the property that ended up supplying a great deal of the water used to fight the blaze, Wineinger indicated, there would have been a need to request assistance from multiple additional departments.

Celestine Volunteer Fire Department members Blake Schroering, left, and Grant Knies, both of Celestine, manned a water hose as they responded to the barn fire in Celestine on Tuesday afternoon.

“That saved us,” he said of the pond. “We would’ve had probably four more departments there hauling water. The pond provided a majority of our water supply. We didn’t run it dry but we definitely put a little bit of a dent in it.”

The initial fire involved a 44-by-78 post frame agricultural building used for equipment and hay storage. The fire spread to a 24-by-58 adjacent building.

“That one they did get two hay balers out,” Wineinger said.

The two buildings and their remaining contents were total losses. Equipment stored in the buildings included a skid loader, two manure spreaders and approximately 500 small round bales of hay.

The property was insured but there was no immediate dollar estimate of the loss, according to Wineinger.

Celestine and Schnellville volunteer fire departments responded to the barn fire in Celestine on Tuesday afternoon.

Daryl Betz and Terry Betz Farms brought a backhoe and a trackhoe excavator, respectively, to the scene, according to Wineinger. The heavy equipment was used to spread out the burning debris and hay so firefighters could attack hot spots.

The chief said the cause of the fire is undetermined at this time but spontaneous combustion is suspected.

No people or animals were injured during the fire.

A fence for cattle on the property ran right up to the buildings, which meant some fencing had to be installed to keep cows corralled, the chief said.

Firefighters also extinguished flames that spread into about an acre of an adjacent field.

Schnellville’s department had three trucks and 15 firefighters on the scene for several hours.

Celestine’s department responded with five trucks and 23 firefighters. Units were on the scene for about five and a half hours. By the time equipment was cleaned and hoses stored, Wineinger said, it was about 9:30 p.m.

Firefighters were also assisted by a Memorial Hospital Emergency Medical Services ambulance, which was on standby.

Celestine and Schnellville volunteer fire departments responded to a barn fire in Celestine on Tuesday afternoon.

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