Firefighters from multiple departments responded to two early morning barn fires in Montcalm County today.
The Home Township Fire Department responded to 11670 N. Deja Road north of Cutler Road around 3:20 a.m. Belvidere Township, Day Township and Millbrook-Roland Township all assisted.
Home Township’s Tim Irwin was incident commander at the scene.
“Apparently the barn got hit by lightning,” Irwin said. “There was a pretty good lightning storm going on at the time. The barn was full of hay. It was a old barn, a big huge barn. At first one side was involved, but before we could set up, the fire went to the roof and just flashed over the whole barn.”
Irwin said the property owners James and Martha Anderson were in their home nearby when the fire started and they called 911. The house was not damaged in the fire. There was no livestock in the barn.
Irwin said the hay in the barn will likely smolder for several days.
The Andersons declined to comment this morning.
The Richland Township Fire Department responded to 10901 E. McBride Road near Douglas Road at 4:53 a.m.
Richland Township Fire Chief Calvin Callison said Alma, Crystal Township and McBride were all called in for assistance.
“It was lightning,” said Callison of the cause of the fire. “A big storm came through.”
Callison said firefighters remained at the scene for more than 12 hours after responding. Callison said about 144,000 gallons of water were used to extinguish the blaze. Norm Crook, a farmer who resides in Day Township, assisted with his excavator to dig smoldering hay out of the barn.
Callison said the owners of the barn lived across the road. Their house sustained some smoke damage.
“They were pretty upset about it,” Callison said.
According to property tax information, the property is owned by Daniel Thomsen and Bonnie Vaughn, but Callison said they were not the people he talked to after the fire. Callison didn’t know their names and he wasn’t sure if any livestock or equipment was in the barn at the time of the fire.