posted on July 21, 2011 20:17
Seventeen Genesee County fire and emergency crews, and several more from outside the county, were called to Townline Road in Elba today to battle a blaze that destroyed two farm storage barns.
The fire was reported around 4:15pm at Post Dairy Farms. According to Deputy County Emergency Coordinator Keith Hunt, the homeowner had discovered the flames in his hay barn, and began to spray at them with a garden hose. Eventually, he called for firefighters, and the first volunteer on-scene attempted to help him with the garden hose battle.
Things quickly got out of hand.
"It got too smoky for them, they had to leave the barn," says Hunt. "Obviously it escalated to the entire building." Hunt confirmed that he would call that initial feeble battle "a mistake" – but he says it's understandable.
"Anyone who isn't a properly trained firefighter just can't understand how fire works; the dynamics of fire, and how it spreads," Hunt tells WBTA.
Substantial crews arrived a short while later, but quickly realized they could only fight a "defensive" battle, and attempt to save the surrounding buildings and silos. Hunt says water was chiefly sprayed from the roadway, because the radiant heat of the fire was too much to handle.
"We're talking temperatures in the 90's, with a heat index in the upper 90's," Hunt said. The large number of fire crews were called in due to that heat, chiefly so that firefighters could be switched out in short shifts. "We're doing the best we can do under the circumstances," Hunt said.
Winds also picked up this afternoon, which initially fanned the flames out of control. East Pembroke volunteer Willie Torres tells WBTA that at one point early in the battle, the entire barn collapsed in on itself, sending a giant fireball rushing into the sky.
No people were injured as a direct result of the fire. One firefighters was transported to UMMC with heat exhaustion, and a neighbor was also transported for smoke inhalation. It appears unlikely at this time that any animals were injured in the blaze.
Crews are expected to remain on-scene late into the evening, as the hay contained in those barns continues to smolder.
Investigation into the fire continues. It is not being labeled suspicious this evening.