Local News

Fire Also Destroyed Vintage Automobile

(Rolling Prairie, IN) - About a dozen hogs along with a nearly century-old automobile were lost in a barn fire in LaPorte County. Firefighters late in the night of December 20 responded to a small farm belonging to Kenneth Hunt in the 6800 block of East 300 North.


“It was a total loss,” said Kankakee Township Fire Chief Chip Winters.


Winters said the barn, roughly 60 feet long and 30 feet wide, was serviced by electricity running from the house.  He said some type of electrical issue could have started the fire but the cause will be left up to Hunt’s insurance company to try and determine. Hunt told investigators he plugged in a submersible heater that night to keep water in a trough the hogs inside the barn drank out of from freezing.


"It could have been that or something else.  We don’t know,” Winters said.


At some point, Winters said a breaker switch in the house attached to the electrical wiring leading to the barn was tripped. Hunt said a breathing machine he was wearing for sleep apnea quit running, which woke him up.  He climbed out of bed and from his bedroom window noticed the fire.


Hunt said that also lost in the fire was a 1928 Essex, an automobile once belonging to his great-grandmother, Emma.  He said the black-colored vehicle with wood spoke wheels was all original and in mint condition. His father, Darral, was the current owner who kept the car inside his son’s barn for the past several years after running out of storage space in his garage where he lives nearby.


Hunt said he hated to break the news to his father.


“He ain’t too happy about it but what can you do. At least nobody got hurt.  That’s the biggest thing,”


Hunt said the car was last driven when he and his father took it for a spin “three to four years ago.”


“It sucks, man.  I don’t wish this on nobody,” he said.


Firefighters from Lincoln, Pleasant, and Springfield townships helped put out the blaze.  Winters said the barn was small but outside assistance was needed to provide enough tanker trucks with water to put out flames embedded in the hay and wood stored inside the structure. The barn also contained a sawmill Hunt used to cut logs into lumber.


Winters said he was not aware of any hogs that survived the fire, which took about three hours to completely extinguish.


Hunt said the car was insured but he did not know how much the car was worth. 

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