Local

Barn fire near Woodstock ignited by hay 'spontaneously combusting'

Firefighters survey the scene of a barn fire Tuesday in unincorporated Woodstock.
Firefighters survey the scene of a barn fire Tuesday in unincorporated Woodstock.

WOODSTOCK – Crews are still monitoring the charred remains of barn near Woodstock that caught fire Tuesday night by hay spontaneously combusting, according to the Woodstock Fire Rescue Department.

A total of 16 area departments from as far as Walworth, Wis., were called to assist with the blaze at 16812 Kunde Road in an unincorporated area of McHenry County at around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Firefighters arrived to find a 40-foot-tall, 150-foot-wide barn on fire in the rural area that borders Woodstock and Union. No one was in the barn, and several animals escaped safely, although not all are accounted for.

The barn contained as many as eight sheep, about a dozen roosters and chickens, 750 bales of hay weighing 100 pounds each, and machinery, Deputy Chief Terry Menzel said.

Crews had the fire contained to the T-shaped barn by 8:30 p.m. More than half of the departments were called to the scene to help provide water because no fire hydrants were near the residence, Capt. Brendan Parker said. Firefighters remained on the scene Wednesday as the controlled-burn was expected to last another 24 hours.

Firefighters also brought an excavator to the scene to pull apart the bales of hay and put out the fire quicker. The contents in the barn destroyed due to the fire cost about $75,000.

Investigators later determined the fire ignited from wet and dry hay — more than six weeks old — spontaneously combusting, Menzel said.

No one was injured during the incident.

• Lawerence Synett contributed to this report.

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