2013-05-02 / Top News

Sunday afternoon blaze levels barn


Black smoke billowing from the barn on the Werner farm could be seen for miles. Black smoke billowing from the barn on the Werner farm could be seen for miles. By Verda Seeklander

High winds Sunday afternoon fanned flames from a fire that started in a burn pit north of a farmstead three miles east of Hazelton Sunday afternoon.

A grove of trees, a threeor four-acre patch of alfalfa and another grove of trees are between the burn pit and the farm, according to home owner Lila Jane Werner. A family member had burned some items in the pit last Thursday and had checked it later on to be certain that the fire was out and determined that it was.

Werner said when she was outside at about 2:45 p.m. on Sunday, everything was calm and quiet. A half hour later, at 3:18 p.m., her sister, Beatrice Heer, called from Hazelton to ask if the fire was at the Werner farm. Werner went outside, saw flames following the high grass and racing toward her home. She called 9-1-1.


The fire narrowly missed the house as it spread across the yard before jumping Highway 34 and burning south. The fire narrowly missed the house as it spread across the yard before jumping Highway 34 and burning south. “Then the fire hit the barn, and there it went,” Werner said.

Werner said a fanning mill and probably a few other pieces of equipment that her father had used along with picture frames from her deceased brother’s business were stored in the barn, which was in disrepair after being damaged by strong winds some years ago.

Billows of black smoke were seen for miles as the barn went up in flames. Meanwhile the fire, fanned by strong northerly winds, continued to race through the tall, thick grass, jumped Highway 34 and continued south, burning about 60 acres.

Werner said she felt fortunate that she had kept the major part of her yard mowed last year. That was apparently why the fire did not spread east to her house.

The Hazelton, Braddock and Napoleon Fire Departments responded. The Linton Fire Department also answered the call after responding to another burn pit fire south of Hazelton that started on the Scott Baumiller farm where Northern Improvement was doing some burning.

Werner said she remembers that she and her sister mixed cement in the late 1940s for the foundation of the barn. The barn was moved to their farm from a Bibelheimer farm by Jake Haid. The move meant hauling the barn through a pasture and over a creek to its destination.

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