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Spontaneous combustion said barn fire's cause

March 26, 1997

Spontaneous combustion has been blamed for a fire that engulfed a barn east of Hagerstown Monday afternoon, killing three calves and damaging farming equipment, fire officials said.

Faron Taylor of the Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office said straw stored in the northwest corner of the barn since last summer got wet when the roof leaked.

That small amount of water started a chemical reaction that caused the fire that broke out around 4:30 p.m., Taylor said.

Damage was estimated at $100,000 for the barn at 11219 Kieffer Funk Road, which is near White Hall Road about halfway between Hagerstown and Smithsburg.

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Nathan Martin and his family have farmed the land for 23 years. The farm's owner, Richard Keplinger of Hagerstown, is insured.

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