• Last modified 1775 days ago (Aug. 15, 2019)


Lightning strike, blaze destroys barn

Staff writer

The fire was so bright that Eldon
Wiens thought the sun had risen.

He didn’t know his barn had been struck by lightning Thursday morning.

“I thought, ‘Is the sun coming up or what,’ ” he said. “It was so bright outside. I walked to the kitchen and saw the whole thing.”

A neighbor saw the lightning strike near Kanza and 140th Rds. and called it in, Eldon said.

LaVonne Wiens didn’t see the fire right away, but felt uneasy because of the weather.

“I knew there was something wrong because I couldn’t sleep,” she said. “If I got up I probably would have fainted. Seeing it out the window just looked like daylight.”

The barn was full of hay, as well as a front-end loader, but no one was in the building.

“We have our grandson working here and he wasn’t here at the time,” LeVonne said. “That’s what we’re thankful for. No one was hurt.”

It was too late when Hillsboro fire chief Ben Steketee arrived at the property on 140th and Kanza Rds.

“When I got there everything in the shed was on fire,” he said. “There’s no way to save it. If half of it is on fire you can start pulling off some of the bales and save them, but when everything is on fire you can’t even walk up to it.”

The rain helped keep the fire under control and away from the rest of the property, Eldon said.

“The wind and rain helped the most, but we have to keep a close tab on it the next couple days,” he said. “If the wind turns to the north or west, the ashes could blow across our yard.”

Dousing the fire with water was unwise because it was contained when the metal roof fell in. The departments had to let the fire burn itself down, Steketee said.

“It’s halfway burned down and that metal is keeping it contained,” he said.

Hillsboro, Marion, and Peabody fire departments had limited options because the blaze engulfed the barn quickly. Fire fighters turned attention to ensuring the fire didn’t spread to a nearby fuel tank or garage, Steketee said.

“You always take a chance when you leave a fire burning,” he said. “It’s something I don’t like to do. I don’t take it lightly.”

Letting the blaze continue carried reservations, particularly during the evening, Eldon said.

“It’s not a good feeling,” he said. “You go to bed and sleep, but what if the wind turns and we don’t notice it?”

Last modified Aug. 15, 2019