A cattle barn off West 500 North burned to the ground Thursday night. The barn was part of Willemsen Dairy Farm, owned by Tejo Willemsen.

The Frankton Fire Department was the first to respond to the fire. Chief Rob Amick said the fire started when a construction crew started cutting into a silo south of the barn. Bales of hay that were stored in the silo caught fire and blew over onto the barn.

The fire was called in by an off-duty Lapel firefighter, Todd Sears, who noticed a large fire while he was driving.

Several area fire crews were on the scene; Pipe Creek, Richland, Lapel, Pendleton, Alexandria and Wayne Township from Hamilton County.

The entire structure, which is about the size of a football field, was on fire. Amick said no one was harmed in the fire, and that there were no cattle in the barn at the time of the fire. As the structure continued to burn Thursday night, Amick analyzed how he would put out the fire.

“We’ll knock it down to make it safer to work on. It’s not worth losing someone’s life over,” said Amick.

To complicate things, the cattle barn had a 20-foot-deep pit full of manure. The methane contained in the pit was at constant risk of exploding.

About a half hour after the Frankton Fire Department arrived, a three-phase power generator blew. American Light and Power was called to turn off the power. Lapel Fire Chief Chad Everitt said he was surprised the fuse hadn’t blown sooner. Everitt said three phases is a lot of power and could have been very dangerous for the crews working on the fire.

As of late Thursday night the fire was contained, but still burning. Amick said it would take a “long time” for the blaze to burn out.

Contact Sam Brattain at 640-4883, sam.brattain@heraldbulletin.com

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