SYRACUSE — The three residents of an apartment, James and Vicky Hawkins and Greg Dvorak, two dogs and at least 10 chickens escaped unharmed, after fire destroyed a 4,950 square foot pole barn Wednesday evening, May 18, on the property of Dr. Richard Brungardt, 11639 N. SR 13, Syracuse. A dog, eight cats and approximately 40 chickens perished. The building has an actual address of 11641 N. SR 13, Syracuse.
It may be early next week before the cause is known. Turkey Creek Fire Territory Chief Mickey Scott stated he called in the Kosciusko County Fire Investigation Team, Squad 70, to determine the cause and origin of the fire.
The animal clinic was not affected by the blaze.
The heavy black smoke plume was visible from Milford and according to the National Weather Service Northern Indiana, the smoke plume showed up on radar at 5:09 p.m. one mile northwest of the weather station. Officials at NWS reported the plume expanded and weakened as it went toward Warsaw, due to the north winds and could have been visible throughout the northern part of the county.
Scott reported the fire department received the initial call at 4:59 p.m. and immediately called for a full assist from North Webster Fire Department and tanker assist from Benton and Milford fire departments. After arriving at the scene Benton and Milford departments were notified for a full assist.
“What impressed me was we never ran out of water in a rural setting,” said Scott. Approximately six tankers were used to provide 60,000 to 70,000 gallons of water to battle the fire. Tankers traveled from the fire scene to fire hydrants at Ace Hardware and Pizza Hut to refill. A drop tank and tanker was set up near Brungardt’s residence and relayed to a tanker near the fire scene.
Scott stated the use of dry hydrants was not an option as all tankers were needed at the scene. The use of a dry hydrant would require one tanker remaining at the site to draft the water into the other tankers.
While the apartment was on the southeast corner of the building, the remainder of the building was used to store hay and as a chicken house. Scott reported a lot of hay was inside the building. Several pieces of motorized equipment were also inside the structure. The intense heat and fire caused the roof and sides of the building to collapse. Don’s Excavating was called in to use a backhoe to remove debris allowing firefighters to extinguish the fire underneath.
The estimated loss to the building and contents is between $70,000 and $80,000.
In addition to battling the fire, firefighters also encountered swarming bees from beehives on the south side of the building. No firefighter reported being stung.
It is estimated 50 firefighters were at the scene throughout the early evening hours. The Kosciusko County Chapter of the American Red Cross arrived to assist the three residents and set up a firemans canteen.
While the fire was brought under control at 6:08 p.m., a number of firefighters did not clear the scene until 10:06 p.m.
Firefighters were called back to the scene at 4:45 a.m. today, May 19, for a rekindle and were at the scene until 5:30 a.m.