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Several ‘suspicious’ barn fires raise questions of how they happened

Updated: May. 7, 2021 at 5:48 PM EDT
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MADISON TOWNSHIP, Ind. (WNDU) -16 News Now is digging deeper after two barn fires that happened on the edge of St. Joseph and Elkhart Counties are under investigation.

In an article published Friday by the Farm Exchange, the Wakarusa fire chief said the origin of one of these fires was suspicious.

16 News Now spoke with the man who owned that barn and tells why he thinks the fire was no accident.

That fire burned bright enough to get Gary Eby out of bed late Monday night.

The second fire happened less than three miles away from Eby’s farm and started roughly a half-hour later.

“I think somebody drove by and set the place on fire. There’s no question about it,” said the property owner where the first fire started Gary Eby.

He said he saw what he thought was someone’s high-beams shining through his window, before he looked out and saw the flames.

“Quite obviously it was on fire and I jumped out of bed and told the wife to call 911,” Eby said.

Eby says almost everything in the barn burned, including several items that he cherished.

“My dad, when he was a kid, they took an old buggy and cut the wheels down and made a pony wagon. That was in there and I really hated to lose that but hey, it’s gone,” he said.

He said the fire could have done much more damage if fire crews didn’t contain it so quickly, especially with a propane tank nearby.

“They saved the house and they saved my garage and they saved this building right here, so I feel very lucky we got out of it alive and none of the firemen got hurt,” Eby said.

While crews put out the fire at Eby’s farm, this second fire was happening just down the road.

Crews headed to this scene nearly a half-hour after the fire started at Eby’s.

Neither fire resulted in any injuries, but the Farm Exchange reports these as the two latest barn fires after four to five others burned down in Elkhart County just this month.

They noted all these fires occured on Monday nights.

16 News Now reached out to the state fire investigators and the Elkhart Sheriff’s Department to learn if they’re connecting any of these fires, but they said due to the nature of the investigation, they can’t comment at this time.

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