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Fire destroys grain dryer, corn inside

DAMASCUS — The cause of a fire in the grain dryer at Witmer’s Feed & Grain on Front Street early Sunday has been deemed undetermined, Damascus Fire Chief Derek Day said.

Damages have been estimated at $50,000 to the grain dryer itself and another $5,600 to the corn crop inside the dryer, with the property insured.

Firefighters got the call at 5:55 a.m. and spent the next four hours on the scene, calling in Salem and Beloit fire departments for mutual aid and placing Green Township on standby. Salem arrived with the platform ladder truck for fire suppression and to lift personnel to the top of the 56-foot tall grain dryer tower to cut access holes for extinguishing the fire.

Day said they knocked the fire down and once the owner, Mike Witmer, arrived, they did what they could to prevent too much damage to the equipment while attacking hot spots. Firefighters discovered more fire further down from the top and had to open it up from the top. The cone part of the equipment was on fire, too.

“We appreciate the assistance of the owner. He was tremendously helpful,” Day said.

He’s hopeful that the owner can get the grain dryer repaired because it’s an expensive piece of equipment.

Damascus cleared the scene at 9:55 a.m. Sunday.

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