Lightning the cause of Vestaburg-area barn fire

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 11:07 am on Thursday, August 08, 2013

RICHLAND TOWNSHIP — Lightning has now been ruled as the cause of two barn fires in Montcalm County early Wednesday 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.

The Home Township Fire Department responded to another barn fire at 11670 N. Deja Road north of Cutler Road around 3:20 a.m. Wednesday. Belvidere Township, Day Township and Millbrook-Roland Township all assisted.

According to Home Township’s Tim Irwin, the cause of that fire was also lightning. 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.

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