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Tenant says heat from exhaust pipe ignites barn fire west of Smithsburg

August 02, 2011|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com
  • Firefighters from Boonsboro move sheets of metal from a barn fire Tuesday night on Chewsville Road west of Smithsburg.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

CHEWSVILLE — Fire raced through a large barn on Chewsville Road Tuesday night after heat from an exhaust pipe on a small tractor being used inside the structure caused a straw bale to ignite, according to a farmer at the property.

Flames engulfed the 48-by-108-foot building at 21312 Chewsville Road near Chewsville. Nearly all that was left of the structure was a few upright sections, piles of straw and burning remnants being moved around by tractors as firefighters put out the remaining flames.

Dozens of people gathered to watch civilians and firefighters work at the scene.

Delmer Martin, who has been renting the farm for 46 years from the Grimm family, said his son, Keith, was working inside the barn with the tractor before the 5:54 p.m. fire started. Martin said his son backed into a bale of straw, which caught fire as a result of heat from the exhaust.

Keith Martin was able to get out of the barn safely, his father said.

The barn was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived, said Capt. Rick Fleming of the Mt. Aetna Volunteer Fire Department.

Firefighters had to battle the blaze from the outside, Fleming said.

Fire officials at the scene confirmed that a piece of equipment being used in the barn started the fire. No damage estimate was available Tuesday night.

Delmer Martin also said at the scene that his wife, Erma, died Feb. 6.  Erma received a liver transplant in 1988 before she and Delmer were married and received another transplant last year, he said.

“I don’t want to overplay that, but it’s a part of the story,” Delmer Martin said of his wife’s death. “Our family is losing.”

Delmer Martin had another son, Kevin, with his wife, and the couple also adopted three children.

The family farms 146 acres and raises corn, alfalfa, soybeans and wheat.

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