October 20, 2014

Elyria
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Wakeman barn a total loss; four dairy cows saved from fire

WAKEMAN — Six fire departments battled a barn fire on state Route 303 all night long. In the end, Gary Miller’s dairy barn was a complete loss, but firefighters were able to save four dairy cows and several attached buildings and prevent flames from spreading to the nearby farmhouse.

Jonna Abraham, who rents the home from Miller, said she looked out at 11:15 p.m. and saw flames.

“Within 20 minutes, the whole thing was engulfed,” she said.

More photos below.

Wakeman Fire Chief Jim Tansey said his department received the call at 11:35. Flames were visible as far away as state Route 20, he said. The barn sits within sight of the Lorain County line.

Firefighters from Oberlin and Wellington and Camden, Florence and Townsend townships were called in to provide mutual aid, Tansey said, and the last fire truck didn’t pull away until after 9 this morning. A state fire marshal’s investigator remains on the scene.

The barn, which was three stories high and approximately 100 feet by 40 feet with a 30 foot by 50 foot addition, was built in the early 1900s but had been recently refurbished, Miller said. He said it contained 3,000 bales of his top-quality organic hay.

Abraham, who was still visibly upset this morning, returned home after taking her children to school and making a doughnut run — she said she plans to take doughnuts to several of the fire departments to thank them for their job well done.

She said she was amazed how well firefighters contained the blaze. She said she was scared for her home, but she doubts firefighters were, as they didn’t even make her family evacuate. Her two small children slept through most of the fire, she said.

“It went so quick,” she said. “It just wouldn’t stop burning. It’s just wood and hay, it’s going to burn.”

Miller, who now lives in Perrysburg, said he isn’t sure if he’ll rebuild. It will depend on the cost, he said, adding that “sometimes the insurance company requires a rebuild.”

The loss, however, is mostly sentimental, he said.

“The old buildings — you hate to lose them,” he said.

Contact Rona Proudfoot at 329-7124 or rproudfoot@chroniclet.com.