By Michael Wilson
A barn fire Monday prompted a response from five county fire departments, including the city of Columbus (IN) Fire Department. At 9:01 a.m., Columbus Fire Department was called to a report of a possible barn fire near the intersection of county road 450 S. and 300 W. in Southwestern Bartholomew County. At 9:07 a.m., Columbus Fire Department engine 6 arrived at 5180 W. 450 S. and confirmed a fully involved 40×60 pole barn fire. The location of the fire was approximately 1 mile west of the city limit and 3 miles west of the CFD fire station number 6.
Firefighters arriving at the scene quickly determined the need for large amounts of water as there were no hydrants near the structure. Engine number 6, the first fire engine to arrive at the scene, carried only 750 gallons. A request for water tanker trucks was placed to the Bartholomew County Emergency Operations Center dispatch. Engine 6 firefighters utilized two 2 3/4-inch handlines for fire attack. By the time firefighters had arrived at the scene , the fire had already burned through the metal roof of the pole barn. Two grain bins were located on the north side of the pole barn and were exposed to flames. Firefighters battled to protect the grain bins while attempted to control the fire. During fire suppression operations, Engine 6 briefly ran out of firefighting water. Within seconds the water supply was re-established with the help of four county fire departments and their tanker units. As firefighters made progress on extinguishment, debris, including sheet metal siding, was removed from exterior walls to allow greater access for water application. The fire was brought under control within one hour but crews continued to remove debris and battle small pockets of fire within the collapsed structure.
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Property owner Mark Shireman told investigators that he was alerted to the fire from a cell phone call. Shireman, who was at work when the fire occurred, said that the caller had told him that it was his home that was on fire. Mark Shireman stated upon his arrival, “I was relieved that it was the barn and not the house.” Mr. Shireman told firefighters that he and his family had lived at that location since 1995, but that the home and property have been in his wife’s family for many years. Gayla Shireman told investigators that her father had built the pole barn in 1974.
During the incident, firefighters used approximately 12,000 gallons of water that was delivered by water tankers. Responding volunteer fire departments included Wayne Township, Columbus Township, Harrison Township, and Southwest Fire Department. Approximately 40 firefighters responded to the call. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Columbus Fire Department Battalion Chief Mark Ziegler stated that he was extremely pleased with the performance of all agencies involved. “This was a tough fire,” Chief Ziegler stated. “When you have a building like this, you can’t just go in and put out the fire. It’s going to take time and a lot of water to safely get a fire like this under control. All of the departments involved worked very well to make that happen.”
Additional agencies that assisted at the scene included the Bartholomew County Sherriff’s Department, Columbus Regional Heath EMS, and Bartholomew County REMC.
Michael Wilson is a captain and spokesman for the Columbus (IN) Fire Department.