Multiple crews fight large barn fire near Wakarusa, cause unknown
Firefighters with Harrison Township were woken up at 3 a.m. Thursday when a barn north of Wakarusa went up in flames.
Fire Chief Curvin Martin said there were no reported injuries to residents or livestock, but the barn was full of straw so the blaze required a good deal of water to put out. Martin added firefighters were able to pull out around $1 million worth of farming equipment in the nick of time.
“My first three guys that were there jumped in and got the equipment before it caught fire. One tractor the tires were on fire, it was close,” Martin said.
Fire companies from Wakarusa, Baugo, Nappanee, Four Acre and Madison Township all helped put the fire out of the barn which sat near County Road 30 and State Road 19.
Martin said he understands residents in rural Elkhart may be nervous hearing about Thursday morning’s fire given a string of arsons which targeted barns in 2021. Ultimately Joseph Hershberger was sentenced to 55 years in prison for starting the blazes.
Though Martin said it’s too early to tell what caused Thursday’s fire, he said straw can catch very easily, so there’s numerous possibilities.
"Straw can start with just a little spark from anything," said Martin. "So it doesn't necessarily mean it was arson or it wasn't arson. I don't think it was, but to try and determine what exactly caused it, we can't right now."