Twenty-five to 30 firefighters from three fire departments responded to a blaze March 27 at 26109 Bessler Road, Batesville, according to Chief Kevin Froehling, Eagle Fire Co., Oldenburg.
About 1:42 p.m., a second-party call reported the blaze because the owners, Justin and Sarah Benoit, were not at home.
Oldenburg firefighters arrived first. The chief said, “It was really smoky, and the original structure of the main barn was fully involved. The secondary barn that was adjacent to it was just starting to catch fire” due to intense heat. “The wind was terrible and was pushing the fire onto it. Mother Nature was the biggest challenge.
“Batesville got out there right away with an engine, tanker and manpower .... (and) Morris helped us with a tanker, extra water and manpower.”
“The main barn was totally destroyed and 75 percent of the adjacent one was gone .... There were giant dry evergreen trees, and we thought they would take off like matchsticks onto the house, but we saved the house. It was totally untouched. The fire didn’t even melt a shingle on the roof.
“There was a handful of chickens in the barn. I think they lived because we could see them roosting in the woods when we left, but the three sheep did die ....
“The worst thing about having a fire during the day is pretty well everyone is at work.” He believes it was lucky that someone was driving by and alerted the emergency dispatcher.
Even though the fire’s cause is undetermined, “the property owner was using a heat lamp, and he had some issues with varmints, like skunks. There was a lot of hay bedded down in the barn for the chickens.”
The firefighter pointed out, “The property owners said the biggest reason they bought the house was because of the barn. It had some history to it.”
Froehling was at the scene until about 5:30 p.m. He appreciated the assistance. “Everybody worked well together and everybody was safe and we got the job done.”