Whether it involves people or animals, loss of life can be hard to accept.
After someone knocked on Terry Meyers’ door around 4 p.m. Monday alerting his family of a barn fire, he ran down the hill.
Unfortunately, there was too much smoke and flames, and he wasn’t able to save the chickens and nine goats in the 48-by-48 barn in the 3500 block of U.S. 50 about 5 miles west of Seymour.
“That’s the worst part of the whole thing,” Meyers said as he watched Brownstown Volunteer Fire Department work the scene of the fire.
Story continues below gallery
“By the time I got down here, there were flames popping out everywhere. Man, it was hot,” Meyers said. “We couldn’t get to the animals or anything.”
Meyers said he had six adult female goats and one billy goat. One of the females had just had twins, and others were ready to give birth. He said several chickens and cats also roamed around the barn, and he wasn’t sure if the cats were able to make it out.
With the temperature recently reaching single digits at night, Meyers was using a heat lamp to keep the baby goats warm. He suspects the lamp somehow made contact with straw or hay he had stored in the barn.
“I’m guessing it’s electrical because there’s nothing else down here,” he said. “I don’t know if that’s what it was, but I’m guessing probably that’s it.”
Brownstown Fire Chief Eric Browalski said he determined the fire started on the north side of the barn.
“I’d say between the warmer and the straw, it probably got knocked over. It’s most likely the ignition source,” Browalski said. “As far gone as the structure is, there’s really no other power sources going into it, so that’s the most logical.”
The fire was reported at 4:03 p.m. by John Ray, who lives at 3540 E. U.S. 50. Meyers’ home is just to the east at 3570 E. U.S. 50, and the barn is down a hill behind Ray’s home.
Meyers and his wife, Deborah, purchased the six-acre property in August 2012. Raising the animals became a hobby.
“It’s almost like pets is what it is,” Meyers said. “They are meat goats, and we took some to the market because you can’t keep them all.”
Besides the animals, hay and straw, Meyers had lawn equipment, including a tractor, stored in the barn.
“We’ll probably rebuild the barn,” he said. “We’ll have to do that. We have too much to store.”
He said he hadn’t had much time to think about getting more animals.
“I don’t know what we’ll do,” he said. “We’ll probably get something. You’ve got to do something.”
Browalski said it was tough to hear about animals being in the barn.
“You never want to hear of any kind of loss of life of any kind or property,” he said. “We do the best we can. Unfortunately, when we arrived on scene, it was already fully involved, so anything that was in there would have already perished.”
Meyers praised the firefighters for getting there as quick as possible and working to put out the fire in the 30-degree weather.
Firefighters focused on watering down the fire on the hay and straw.
“Trying to put out hay takes a long time,” Browalski said. “We’ll try to spread the hay piles out as best we can, and we’ll just put copious amounts of water on that straw. We use a Class A foam, and that helps it not evaporate as quickly. We’ll utilize some of that on the remaining hot spots.”
They also removed metal siding from the wood-framed barn.
“If that siding is laying on top of embers and stuff burning, our water can’t get to it, so we remove all of the siding,” Browalski said. “That lets us get down and get everything extinguished so we can get all of the smoke out of it.”
Driftwood and Jackson-Washington township fire departments provided seven tankers for support. Within the first hour of the fire, they had used more than 15,000 gallons of water, Browalski said.
“For most of the volunteer fire departments, most of our coverage doesn’t have hydrants, so that’s why we have the tankers,” he said. “Our county implemented a while back automatic mutual aid. So when we have a structure fire, the next-closest departments are automatically toned for water shuttle; so that way, we don’t run out of water.”
A portable dump tank also was used.
“That holds 2,100 gallons, so our engine can keep the lines fed, and the tankers shuttle water to us where we don’t have a hydrant to hook up to,” he said. “It’s a water supply.”
Brownstown firetrucks returned to the station around 7 p.m.