FLORENCE TWP. – An approximately 10-foot high, 20-by-20- yard long pile of corn lay outside farmer Richard Hanko’s silo Sunday afternoon.
“So much for my bumper crop,” a dejected Hanko said as he stared at the corn, which spilled from the silo when it caught fire Sunday.
Firefighters responded at 1:04 p.m. to the fire on Hanko’s 90-acre farm at 13509 West Road. Firefighters, who were assisted by Vermilion and Wakeman firefighters, punched two holes in the silo to ventilate it and save some of the corn, according to Assistant Chief Nick Halliwell of the Florence Township Fire Department.
The fire was contained by about 2 p.m. and extinguished by 3 p.m. Halliwell said an effort was made to save as much of the 14,000 to 15,000 bushels of corn in the 50-foot-high silo as possible.
“It was a little complicated trying not to waste the (corn),” he said.
Hanko said he believes the fire was caused by a 100-watt light bulb inside the silo that he forgot to turn off about 8 p.m. Saturday.
He said the bulb is enclosed in a dustproof, explosive-proof case designed to prevent it from causing a fire.
Hanko, 47, lives on the property with his grandfather, Louis Hanko, who starting farming in the 1950s. He grows corn and soybeans.
Hanko said he smelled something burning Sunday morning. Hanko thought it might be neighbors burning leaves. When he returned a few hours later, he saw the roof of the silo was discolored and called 911.
Hanko praised firefighters’ efforts, noting they kept the fire from spreading. The silo is near a propane tank. Hanko, who said he’s insured, estimated he lost about 5,000 bushels with a value of about $25,000.
Hanko said several neighbors called after the fire offering help.
“It’s nice to know you have friends when you need them,” he said.