Firefighters from Saline and several neighboring communities knocked down a spectacular barn fire early Friday evening in Saline Township, but not before the blaze reduced three barns to ashes. No people or animals were injured in the fire, but 10s of thousands of dollars in property was lost.
Saline Firefighters were dispatched to the 9700 block of South Maple Road in York Township at 5:55 p.m. for a structure fire. When firefighters arrived the big barn and two smaller barns were fully involved, said Charles Schaible. Firefighters immediately called for mutual aid. Firefighters from Pittsfield, Milan, Ridgeway, August and Clinton answered the call.
Schaible said the department faced two major problems: wind and water. The wind was blowing in from the north. Firefighters kept the blaze from spreading to two nearby sheds and barns, and more important, to the homestead on site. At times, firefighters also worked to extinguish small field fires as the embers blew from the barns into the fields.
“We hit it pretty good. The only problem we had is we ran low on water for a couple minutes,” Schaible said. The other departments arrived with water tankers, which could be seen going back and forth for supplies from fire hydrants in the city. Firefighters soon had the raging fire under control.
The barns were used to store equipment. There was landscaping and snow removal equipment outside the barns.
The property is still owned by the family of Robert and Louetta Dieterle. The home is being rented to the Johnson family.
It was a hectic scene as neighbors arrived to help remove items from a barn immediately downwind of the fire.
“Guys were jumping into trucks and moving them out of the barn. One of the tarps caught on fire. One of the embers must have caught it on fire. It got a little tense. But they got the important stuff out of there,” said Doug Hoelzer, who saw the fire and stopped to help.
Cathy Koning was on her way home from work when she saw the fire and got out of her vehicle. She saw people pull trucks, lawnmowers and a hay wagon out of the small barn.
All along Maple and Saline-Milan Roads, people pulled over to take pictures and video of the fire.