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Fire in Woodstock destroys barn

No injuries, but investigation expected to be a 'challenge'

WOODSTOCK – There were no injuries in a large barn fire Tuesday in unincorporated Woodstock.

A call came in around 11:37 a.m. for a structure fire at 308 N. Hughes Road, according to Capt. Scott Nieman of the Woodstock Fire Rescue District.

Capt. Brendan Parker said the barn, owned by Carl and Rose Schnulle, was a “total loss,” but there were no livestock in the barn at the time of the fire.

“It’s all the memories from the barn that are gone,” Carl Schnulle said, watching as firefighters continued to put out small flames more than two hours later.

RELATED: Photos of the Woodstock barn destroyed by fire

On the scene were responders from Woodstock, the Nunda Rural Fire Protection District, the Marengo Fire Protection District and several other departments. In total, 23 departments assisted from McHenry County, Lake County and a department from southern Wisconsin, Parker said, adding they ended up activating a fifth alarm for water.

The water flow toward the beginning of the process was lacking in comparison to the size of the fire, Woodstock Fire Chief Ralph Webster said. He estimated the barn was already 30 to 40 percent of the barn was on fire by the time responders got there.

“We needed to be flowing a couple thousand gallons a minute,” Webster said. “... We were probably able to supply 500 gallons with the initial supply.”

The fire was first seen by workers around the property, Schnulle said.

With metal siding over the wooden barn, Schnulle said the wood was “fully dry ... like kindling.”

Exposure to surrounding structures – the house on the west side and another barn to the north – also was an issue, Webster said, adding neither was damaged by the fire.

Neighbor Patty Dahlke said she came outside around noon to see what was happening after her dog started barking.

“My dog was going crazy,” Dahlke said. “I came out, and I couldn’t believe the smoke.”

The fire will be investigated by the Woodstock Fire Rescue District, however, Webster said it likely will be difficult to determine the cause.

“The investigation will be a challenge because basically there’s nothing left to look at,” Webster said.

He said testimonies of those who saw anything will be compiled in order to rule out certain causes. As of now, Webster said they know there were no utilities in the area where the fire was largest. However, Webster said Schnulle told firefighters there were some “electrical disturbances” on the property Monday night, possibly related to the lightning storm.

While no people or livestock were believed to be in the barn, Schnulle later said he lost in the fire a Ford tractor, an extensive collection of Christmas decorations and a homemade wagon, built and given as a gift by employees.

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