Ron and Sue Whaller stood in disbelief Wednesday as their barn burned to the ground.
Firefighters battled to douse the flames at 51428 Bursley Rd., Rochester Township, called after neighbors alerted the Whallers around 12:40 p.m.
“They came over beating on the door and said the barn is on fire,” said Sue Whaller. She looked out the window and saw the barn engulfed.
“I had just been out there 10 minutes before,” Ron Whaller said. “Our lights in the house started flickering and then our neighbor came to the door. I tried to use my truck to pull out the four-wheeler but it was too late.”
The flickering turned out to be from a downed power line that fed the barn, which was reduced to a charred heap in about 30 minutes.
No livestock or people were injured, but about 17 stray cats made their home in the barn. Sue said she believes all or most of the cats got out in time and hid in an adjacent barn.
“They scurry so quickly when anyone tries to bother them,” she said. “I’d really be surprised if they didn’t make it out. I bet they’re hiding somewhere close.”
The fire also destroyed welding equipment, firewood, fluorescent lights, a moderate amount of gasoline, and a $14,000 ATV.
Rochester, Wellington, New London, and Ruggles-Troy fire departments responded to the blaze.
Rochester fire chief Duane Eaton said there was no clear indication of what caused the blaze.
While the Whallers voiced concerns over a 20-minute response time by firefighters, Eaton said his crew was there in 10.
“We’re only a mile down the road,” he said. “We had some initial problems getting water into our trucks but we also already had water on board. We didn’t have any trouble getting water back here. When it’s your stuff burning up, seconds can seem like minutes and minutes can seem like hours.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.
Courtesy photo A fire of unknown origin engulfs a barn at 51428 Bursley Rd., Rochester Township.
Photos by Jonathan Delozier | Wellington Enterprise The barn housed a $14,000 ATV, welding equipment, gasoline, firewood, fluorescent light bulbs, and approximately 17 stray cats.