MIDDLEBURY — A barn near Middlebury was deemed a total loss as a result of a fire on Friday.
Firefighters were called to 59700 C.R. 43 around 11 a.m. When they pulled up to the hog barn they found heavy smoke from the back end, according to Middlebury Fire Chief Jeff Wogoman.
He said the fire was between the ceiling and the roof, making it difficult to get to. Still, firefighters quickly had the fire under control.
"It was a defensive fire. We're just spraying water on it," Wogoman said.
At around 12:15 p.m., firefighters were trying to pull metal off the roof with the help of a large forklift provided by a neighbor. That effort was not completely successful and stopped after a few minutes.
"He thought he'd try it, but we have an actual excavator coming," Wogoman said.
The excavator arrived about 12:45 p.m.
Marlin Bontrager, who owns the barn, said the fire began when he and others were welding gates inside the barn.
"The gases from the pit started burning," he said.
The total value of the barn and equipment inside was estimated at $225,000, according to Wogoman. Bontrager said that while the building was lost, he hoped that some of the equipment could be saved. But that was not his main concern.
"I'm just glad the people got out," he said.
No animals were inside the barn when the fire began.
The Middlebury Fire Department was assisted by departments from Shipshewana, Bristol, Jefferson Township and Clinton Township.
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