UPDATE: Massive barn fire forces several fire departments into action


Nine departments battled an early Tuesday morning fire that badly damaged an Elkhart County business. Investigators tell us it was caused by smoldering embers.

Crews spent more than four hours bringing the massive fire under control.

Black smoke was seen for miles, covering the morning sky.

The fire struck a large barn used by Martin Animal Bedding on S.R. 119 just west of Goshen around 6:30 a.m.

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"Contents of the barn, it's an animal bedding operation, so we had wood from skids, scrap wood and sawdust," described Elkhart Township Fire Chief Ryan Rheinheimer. "It was fully involved. We immediately started an exterior attack on the fire, also calling mutual aid."

Throughout the morning, there was a continuous flow of tankers from nearby departments around the area trucking in water to fight the stubborn blaze.

"We just started calling on our brother departments to come help us out," added Rheimheimer. "Just a matter of getting enough water to get the volume of water flowing we need to get the fire under control."

There was a small mountain of combustible material that wasn't easy to get to at first.

"The roof collapsed onto the sawdust pile," the chief continued while crews were battling the blaze. "We have to pull the sheet metal off, and then we can start extinguishing it."

There is no word on the extent of the loss.

The Elkhart County Health Department was on the scene to determine if run-off water could cause harm to several nearby ponds.

No word yet from the owners on the amount of damage or future plans for the site.

Plans had been in the works to move the business to another location on site.

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