2011-08-24 / Front Page

Fire destroys 2 barns


Firemen battle a blaze in two barns on the Gibbs farm Monday morning. 
Photo by DAVE FREDRICK Firemen battle a blaze in two barns on the Gibbs farm Monday morning. Photo by DAVE FREDRICK WHEATLAND TWP. - A second tragedy struck a local family this week, when fire destroyed two barns on the Gibbs farm at the corner of Deckerville and North Sandusky roads.

On Aug. 7, Mary Lou Gibbs lost her husband of 48 years, Ed “Ted” Gibbs.

On Monday, she watched as a fast moving fire swept through two adjoining barns on the property where her husband grew up and the couple raised their family.

Five fire departments - an estimated 65 to 70 firefighters - battled the blaze that broke out about 8:30 a.m.

Smoke could be seen for miles.

“A lot of flames and smoke, totally involved,” said Deckerville Fire Chief Phil Swoffer, describing the scene when his department arrived.

Swoffer said a farm worker spotted the fire when he went into a building to start up a feed truck. He smelled smoke and thought it was coming from the truck, until “he saw the flames,” said the chief.

The barns were a total loss, along with five tractors and some field equipment.

However, with help from their neighbors, an estimated 50 beef cattle inside the barns were herded out safely, said Swoffer.

“A lot of farmers, community” showed up to help with the animals, and to comfort the family, “because of the tragedy last week at the farm,” Swoffer stated.

The cattle were moved into two other barns that escaped the blaze because the wind was blowing the other way, Swoffer said.

Two injuries were reported. A farm worker was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation. And a Deckerville fireman was taken to Deckerville Hospital for smoke inhalation and later transferred to a hospital in Saginaw. Swoffer would not identify the fireman.

The cause of the blaze was not immediately determined but it was not considered suspicious.

Firefighters cleared the scene around 12:30 p.m. Deckerville was assisted by departments from Argyle, Moore Township, Port Sanilac and Sandusky.

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