Monday fire destroys Celestine hay barns

Members of the Celestine, St. Anthony and Schnellville volunteer fire departments work to put out a hay barn fire at Maurice Pund's farm in Celestine on Monday afternoon. The Dubois County Sheriff's Department and Memorial Hospital Emergency Medical Services also responded to the fire. No one was injured. Brittney Lohmiller/The Herald


CELESTINE — Units of the Celestine Volunteer Fire Department were on the scene more than eight hours Monday when a spark touched off a fire in a barn filled with hay, with that blaze ultimately spreading to an adjacent hay barn.

Both buildings and the 250 to 300 round bales they contained were destroyed but there were no injuries.

Members of the Celestine, St. Anthony and Schnellville volunteer fire departments were on the scene more than eight hours Monday. Brittney Lohmiller/The Herald

Fire Chief Ryan Wineinger said his department was called to the Maurice Pund farm at 1451 S. Santine Road at 3:32 p.m. Within 10 minutes, Celestine requested tanker assistance at the location south of Celestine from the St. Anthony Volunteer Fire Department and the Schnellville Volunteer Fire Department.

The fire started in a 32-by-48 hay building, Wineinger said. It is thought that a spark from a grinder being used in the barn at that time ignited the combustible hay, according to the chief. Pund immediately called authorities but the fire soon spread to an adjacent 30-by-58 barn that was also filled with large round bales of hay.

“It took off,” Wineinger said. “It had actually already spread to the adjacent building before we got there.”
No major pieces of equipment were lost, according to Wineinger.

Tankers from the three departments were able to draw water to fight the fire from one of the nearby ponds on the property.

Firefighters called in an excavator from Mark Bromm Excavating, St. Anthony, to pull apart the bales so hot spots could be wetted. Wineinger indicated firefighters would be prepared should a rekindle occur involving the hay.

No injuries were reported from the afternoon barn fire. Brittney Lohmiller/The Herald

“They left the (heavy) equipment up there,” Wineinger said. “It will be an ongoing thing. It will smolder for a while. That’s the problem with the hay. There’s just no good way to completely extinguish it.”

One law enforcement officer assisting with traffic near the scene remarked about the extreme heat generated by the fire. Wineinger said members of the Pund family supplied firefighters with drinks and food during the long response.

Celestine’s five trucks and 20 firefighters departed from the scene just before midnight to begin the process of cleaning and storing gear back at the fire station.

Wineinger, who did not immediately have a damage estimate, said the loss was insured.

The Dubois County Sheriff’s Department assisted with traffic and a Memorial Hospital Emergency Medical Services ambulance was at the scene on standby.

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