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Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016

Winds whip rural Le Mars barn fire toward house

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Firefighters from three departments, including Le Mars, stopped a large barn fire from spreading to a house and other nearby buildings Monday.

The fire south of Le Mars was reported to the Plymouth County Communication Center at 11:16 a.m.

The barn at the Preston Schroeder residence, 33879 220th St., Le Mars, west of Plymouth County road K-49, was a total loss.

A dollar estimate of the damage and fire loss has not yet been determined, according to David Schipper, Le Mars fire-rescue chief.

An older, large wooden barn filled with hay in the upper level had construction material, including insulation, stored in the main area of the structure.

"The barn burned from west to east and then south in the 35-mile an hour winds," Schipper said. "We were able to save the outbuilding directly to the south and the new house to the southeast."

There were embers from the barn fire flying toward the house when the firefighters arrived, Schipper said.

Firefighters could also see flames in the hay loft area of the barn, he said.

"We had assistance from the Merrill and Hinton firefighters and we used about 45,000 gallons of water," Schipper said.

A few chickens being raised by a family member were in the barn and died, he said.

The source of the accidental fire was a burn pit Schroeder had used in the morning when the wind speed was low, the fire-rescue chief said.

Someone had been at the property while the burn pit area was in use, he said. A passerby reported the fire.

"By 11 a.m. winds were gusting up to 35 miles an hour," Schipper said. "It just re-kindled all the material in his burn pit and threw some of it up in the hayloft."

The wooden barn had a tin roof, which firefighters left intact.

"With the wind, we didn't want any of the hay that is laying there burning to be able to float through the air and have embers flying through the air," he said.

Firefighters had assistance from Plymouth County Emergency Management, the sheriff's office and Le Mars Police and Ambulance Departments, he said.

The fire departments were at the fire location for approximately three hours, according to the Plymouth County Sheriff's Office fire log.

A temporary ban on open burning in Plymouth County was lifted by the state fire marshal last month.

However, dry conditions in Plymouth County continue to be a concern for firefighters, Schipper said.

"With the winds coming out of the northwest now and fairly strong at this time of year we just advise people to be very, very careful," he said.

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