The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, Jan. 27, 2023

Update: cause of barn fire unknown

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

The cause of a massive weekend fire at a storage barn in Liberty Township remains unknown.

“The State Fire Marshal’s Office was called, so it’s an ongoing investigation,” Ohio City Volunteer Fire and EMS Chief Brandon Bowen said on Tuesday.

A storage barn at Gina Dairy LCC was engulfed in flames Saturday night and early Sunday morning. Bob Barnes/Van Wert independent

As first reported on Monday, Ohio City firefighters were dispatched to Gina Dairy LLC in the 14000 block of Richey Road, near Wren Landeck Road shortly before 9:30 p.m. Saturday. Rockford, Willshire and Wren fire departments were called to provide mutual aid. More than two dozen firefighters were on the scene well into early Sunday morning.

Bowen noted the fire posed two major challenges to firefighters.

“The sheer volume of material in the building (mainly hay and straw) would be one and also the location of the building on-site and the accessibility to it, because it was surrounded on three sides by mud,” Bowen explained.

He also noted it took firefighters approximately nine hours and 1.5 million gallons of water, including water from a nearby pond, to bring the blaze under control, but it continues to smolder and will likely continue to do so for several days.

“It’s being managed now, it’s just a controlled burn,” Bowen stated. “There’s still active burning but it’s all contained inside of that building. I’m not overly concerned as long as it doesn’t turn and somehow come to a point where it will affect livestock but we have contingency plans in place if that were to happen.

“It’s all organic material (in the barn) – there’s no plastic, rubber or petroleum based products and the building is 100 percent steel so it didn’t burn,” Bowen said. “I’ve been in contact with (Van Wert County EMA Director) Rick McCoy about the runoff to the ditch. Environmentally it’s probably the best course of action just to let it take its toll because of the concern of runoff water going into the ditch and the contamination of water supply which feeds the city of Van Wert – things of that nature become a concern.”

Bowen added the contingency plans include moving animals if necessary and he said firefighters remain at the scene to monitor the controlled burn. He also confirmed there were no injuries to firefighters or any of the livestock.

POSTED: 01/25/23 at 4:46 am. FILED UNDER: News