HALLSVILLE — A fire early Sunday afternoon burned a carport to the ground and destroyed a barn built before the Civil War.
Boone County Fire Protection District firefighters arrived at Donn Benish’s home at 1:29 p.m. after they received a call from a neighbor alerting them that the barn behind Benish's home was on fire. Benish was preparing to take a nap when his neighbor knocked on his front door, telling him his barn was burning.
"I was really surprised to see the mess," Benish said.
Neighbors had already started trying to control the fire using garden hoses, said Thomas Proctor, who lives near Benish on the 8000 block of North Phillipe Road. He and other neighbors saw the fire from their homes and ran to extinguish it.
Fire Lt. Martina Pounds, public information officer for the fire protection district, said it took firefighters about a half hour to get the fire under control. Four fire engines, three tankers and one small fire truck responded. The crew needed tankers because there was no hydrant near the house to connect to the hoses. About 30 personnel from both the city and county helped extinguish the fire, Pounds said.
The fire consumed a storage shed along with the barn and carport, Benish said. Two trucks and a Jeep burned inside the carport during the fire.
The antique barn, built in 1836, was primarily used for storage purposes and keeping hay. Benish said he had just bought hay two weeks back.
Pounds said she suspected the hay caused the fire, but the exact cause was not yet determined. She noted that the recent dry conditions can increase the internal temperature of the hay, and it is not uncommon for hay to self-ignite.
Pounds said the approximate damage to Benish's property could be nearly $30,000.
Benish's house was not damaged in the blaze. He was the only person inside his house at the time and there were no injuries.
As of 3 p.m. Sunday, firefighters continued working to cool down the smoldering rubble to prevent it from resparking.
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