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Barn fires under investigation in Kosciusko County

Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 6:03 PM EDT
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KOSCIUSKO COUNTY, Ind. (WNDU) - The Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department is investigating two barn fires they say started by arson.

These are now the latest in a series of barn fires to happen in Michiana in the past few months.

Sheriff Kyle Dukes says there are similarities between last night’s fires, and other from nearby counties happening earlier this year.

He says he’s working with Elkhart and St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Departments to try and pinpoint a suspect.

The call came in around eleven at night for a fire at this barn just south of Nappanee. It’s now a total loss.

20 minutes later, and less than two miles up the road, Mike Mast woke up to find his barn also on fire.

“The neighbors woke me up. They told me the barns on fire. I was surprised that we would get hit but the barns close to the road. The guy had been targeting the barns that were close to the road,” says property owner Mike Mast.

Mast says news of barn fires in Elkhart and St. Joseph County concerned him, but he never thought he’d become a victim.

Debbie Schmidt is the owner of a barn that burned down a little more than a month ago says the two fires from last night share stunning similarities with the two suspicious fires from the night she lost her barn.

“It was around 11:00 at night, just a couple miles apart. And Kosciusko’s ironically 11:00 at night, a couple miles a part,” she says.

The Elkhart Sheriff’s department is working with other counties to piece together these similarities.

They’re making this investigation a priority so they can stop these arsons before someone gets hurt.

“We’re not ruling anything out. We’re looking at multiple suspects. We’re looking at method of operations and putting that all together, but you’re going to see some results here soon,” says Dukes.

The fires didn’t result in any injuries.

The State Fire Marshal’s office is also assisting with the investigation.

It’s not just losing the barn that hurts the people that own them, but it’s also losing what’s inside.

Schmidt says it’s not just losing the barn that hurts, but also losing the memories contained inside.

“Those personal items are gone. The memories will always be there. I look around at so many barns and the history that they show. They have so many stories to tell,” she says.

The sheriff’s department says to keep an eye out and give them a call if you see anything suspicious.

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