Large fire burns $1 million worth of equipment

Large fire burns $1 million worth of equipment
Dave Faries

A structure fire on a farm north of Benton City Wednesday evening destroyed an estimated $1 million worth of equipment.

Little Dixie Fire Protection District Chief Bill Albus said flames had already enveloped the machine shed when the call went out. Fire crews could only try to knock down the blaze to keep it from spreading to nearby outbuildings.

When firefighters arrived flames roared from one end of the building to the other. It took crews from Little Dixie and the Martinsburg Fire Department 45 minutes to extinguish the blaze, which left little standing.

“There were drums of oil and transmission fluid in there,” Albus said.

The fire occurred in the 10000 block of Audrain County Road 435. Lost to the flames were a combine, tractors, balers, planters and other farming implements and tools.

Albus believes a block heater the farmer plugged into a tractor for use the next morning was the cause, but he was unable to determine whether a faulty cord or the heater itself sparked the fire.

“The fire started in that area,” he said, adding that damage was too great to allow him to pinpoint things further.

Fighting the fire took two engines, three tankers, 24 firefighters and a rescue truck from Little Dixie, as well as a tanker and four firefighters from Martinsburg. Crews were on the scene for three hours to ensure the embers were completely out.

The Audrain Ambulance District sent a team, as well. There were no injuries, although one firefighter complained of chest discomfort.

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