2012-04-12 / Front Page

Firefighters Douse Wind-Whipped South Auburn Fire


David Keeler

 Firefighters faced stiff winds and dense black smoke in a fire threaded to spread through the village of South Auburn Monday afternoon. Photo by David Keeler.Firefighters faced stiff winds and dense black smoke in a fire threaded to spread through the village of South Auburn Monday afternoon. Photo by David Keeler.As of 5 p.m. Monday, numerous area fire companies were still on the scene of a stubborn salvage yard fire in the village of South Auburn that destroyed a landmark barn and a large quantity of metal army surplus storage containers and other items that were being kept on the property.

The alarm was sounded about 3:15 p.m.

Kathleen Smith who lives just across Route 3001 from where the fire started, said she called 911 after she heard a sound like crashing metal and looked outside to see flames coming from the ground floor of a barn about 50 yards from her house. After calling 911, Smith said she ran outside and was surprised to see how much the fire had spread in such a short time. “The wind was blowing hard and things were popping and exploding,” she said.

Smith said the barn is owned by Mike Baronowski who owns a surplus business called Baron’s Supply in Luzerne Country. Smith said the barn was previously owned by Nelson Benninger and later by Charlie Tyler. It was the smaller of two barns on the property, the other nearby barn suffered what appeared to be minor damage.

Nearby residents said army surplus containers like those seen smoldering started popping and exploding. Photo by David KeelerNearby residents said army surplus containers like those seen smoldering started popping and exploding. Photo by David KeelerThe fire was fanned by stiff winds that spread the flames to the area where metal containers were piled up in what had been the barnyard.

A dense black smoke filled the entire village of South Auburn, at times enveloping firefighters and their equipment.

Smith praised firefighters for their quick response. “They got here really fast,” she said, stopping several times to say thanks to firefighters who passed in front of her home. “It’s really amazing when you think about it,” Smith said. “Most of these people were at work when this fire started and they dropped everything to come here. They’re incredible.”

Smith said the direction of the wind pushed the flames away from her house and other nearby structures. Shortly after she called in the fire, she went down the street to check on her neighbors. “I just wanted to make sure they weren’t asleep,” she said.

A quick response from area firefighters is credited with keeping the fire from spreading to other structures in the village of South Auburn. Photo by David KeelerA quick response from area firefighters is credited with keeping the fire from spreading to other structures in the village of South Auburn. Photo by David KeelerFire companies from Laceyville, Rush, Montrose, Elk Lake Wyalusing and Meshoppen responded to the scene and other area companies were called on to provide backup at the stations of those on the scene.

Laceyville Fire Chief Brad Fassett said he expected that firefighters would be on the scene through the night. The cause of the blaze has not been determined.

 

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