Whitley Co. sawmill damaged by fire

SOUTH WHITLEY, Ind. (WANE) – Multiple fire departments in Whitley County battled a sawmill fire Monday night into early Tuesday morning.

Firefighters were dispatched to the Amos Yoder family run sawmill at County Road West 300 South and Whitley Road around 11:30 p.m. Monday. The first arriving firefighters found three buildings fully engulfed in flames.

Additional departments were called to provide manpower and water.

Cleveland Township Fire Chief Terry Gardner said the three buildings contained a variety of sawmill equipment. Gardner said one building contained forklifts and hydraulic fluid and several other tools and sawmill supplies. Several LP tanks attached to forklifts exploded in the fire. Gardner said firefighters were able to protect a nearby diesel tank.

Crews had most of the flames out in about an hour, but thick smoke encompassed most of the area as crews worked to put out hot spots. Several workers at the property were using heavy equipment to help firefighters clear debris. All three buildings were badly damaged, but the extent of the damage was unknown.

No injuries were reported.

Gardner said firefighters managed the frigid overnight temperatures relatively well. Most of the fire trucks on scene contained closed-in crew cabs which allowed firefighters to get warm. Whitko Community Schools also provided a school bus in case firefighters wanted to get warm.

Gardner said workers had been welding inside one of the buildings Monday and a spark may have caused the blaze. However, Gardner said the investigation was ongoing and no official cause had been determined by Tuesday morning.

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