Explosion levels barn in minutes
Skylar Sullivan rose from her couch at 4:50 p.m. April 13 inside her home at 1910 240th Road to a sound she described as someone popping gum, only 10 times louder.
She walked outside and saw the barn about 20 feet northeast of her house engulfed in flames that reached about 15 feet in the air.
By the time she called 911 and her mother, Elizabeth Sullivan, to quickly come home from work in Marion, the barn was burned to the ground; it was reduced to ash and pieces of burned scrap in less than 10 minutes.
Marion firefighters arrived quickly on the scene with three brush trucks and a tanker. When they arrived the fire had engulfed an area about 40 feet in diameter and the inferno stood about 5 feet tall.
It took firefighters 12,000 gallons of water, three filled tankers worth, to extinguish the fire. Fire Chief Mike Regnier said firefighters were able to return to Marion at 8:30 p.m., about three and half hours after they were called to the blaze. The fire stopped sprouting flames after two hours of constant water spraying.
Although it was intense, Elizabeth Sullivan said no people or animals were harmed in the fire. Skylar said the Sullivan’s horses were in the barn 10 minutes earlier. Baby goats that were living in the barn had only just been allowed outside the building two days earlier.
Even though the animals had access in the barn, all of the farm animals huddled in the corner of their pen as far away from the hot blaze as they could manage. Skylar assumed that the animals may have sensed the explosion was coming and moved out of danger.
Elizabeth said the family did not store anything flammable in the barn that could have caused an explosion. Skylar said that only bicycles and a few possessions owned by property owner Ed Silhan were lost in the fire. The building was not insured, but the Sullivans do have renters insurance.
Without having any perspective on what the barn looked like before he arrived, Regnier could not determine a cost estimate for the damage on Thursday. Regnier and Elizabeth Sullivan were working to catalogue the items in the barn to determine the amount lost.
Although he conducted a quick inspection of the fire Thursday, Regnier said he has no idea what could have caused the explosion.
“It’s just a really unusual event,” he said.