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Swedeborg blaze levels barn Monday

SWEDEBORG, Mo. (Dec. 22, 2008) — A two-alarm barn fire Monday evening leveled a barn west of Swedeborg and led to an emergency response from five different fire departments, according to Capt. Robert Ishmael, spokesman for the Crocker Rural Fire Protection District,

“Part of the barn is still there, but it is a total loss,” Ishmael said.

Ishmael said the fire was accidentally caused by the property owner, Brad Ledbetter.

“He was trying to thaw out a water line with a heat lamp. He got water on the lamp, the lamp shattered and it caused a fire in the hay,” Ishmael said.

Firefighters received the fire call about 4:30 p.m. and Crocker firefighters from the Swedeborg station were the first to arrive, but the barn was fully involved when the first unit arrived at 30199 Boren Drive about two miles down from Highway BB.

Firefighters from the Swedeborg station initially attacked the barn, and called for a second alarm since they realized quickly more help would be needed, Ishmael said. Tricounty firefighters sent an engine and a tanker and were the next to arrive; Crocker firefighters from other stations sent an engine in addition to the initial attack engine and two tankers and a command vehicle. Hazelgreen sent a tanker; Waynesville sent a tanker and engine, and St. Robert sent engine for coverage of the Crocker station.

A total of 28 firefighters were at the blaze, Ishmael said, and at of 7:45 p.m., some were expected to remain for another hour or more.

“Basically we evacuated the livestock from the building and contained the building so it wouldn’t spread to anything else,” Ishmael said. “Basically with a hay fire you have to have an enormous amount of water to control them. They smolder from the inside out and they continue to burn until you put copious amounts of water on them.”

Ishmael said the property owner was working with Crocker firefighters in one remaining engine to use a backhoe to rake the hay off and let the fire burn itself out.

“Within the next hour it should be clearing,” Ishmael said, “The engine is there to protect the backhoe and make sure there is no flame damage to the equipment.”

About 15,000 gallons of water were needed to extinguish the blaze, Ishmael said.

Paramedics from the Pulaski County Ambulance District also assisted at the scene but nobody was hurt, Ishmael said. About a dozen cows and pigs in the barn were saved, he said.

Ishmael cautioned property owners not to take unnecessary risks in cold weather conditions.

“Everybody needs to be careful when they are thawing lines out; heat lamps are very dangerous,” Ishmael said.

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