Fire fighters move a hose into position on the west side of the smoldering wood pile and remnants of a barn at Martin Animal Bedding on C.R. 36 near S.R. 119 in Goshen, Ind. Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013. Multiple fire crews were called to the scene around 6:30 a.m. Nine township fire departments responded to the scene to work the massive fire. Workers from Martin Animal Bedding were inside, but able to escape uninjured. (AP Photo/The Elkhart Truth, Jennifer Shephard)
Updated: October 29, 2013 11:12PM
GOSHEN (AP) — A state highway was closed for several hours Tuesday as firefighters worked to extinguish a large fire at a barn used to store recycled wood for animal bedding.
The fire broke out about 6:30 a.m. at Martin Animal Bedding along Indiana 119 near the Elkhart County city of Goshen, causing a large plume of smoke that could be seen from miles away.
The flames were extinguished by late morning, but crews were digging into the smoldering wood pile to reach hot spots, The Elkhart Truth reported.
“We had wood from skids, scrap wood and sawdust,” Elkhart Township Fire Department Chief Ryan Rheinheimer told WSBT-TV.
Firefighters from 10 departments were called to the scene about 25 miles southeast of South Bend. Two nearby county roads also were temporarily closed as firefighters had to drive a couple miles to get water from city hydrants.
Rheinheimer said spontaneous combustion within the wood pile was a possible cause of the fire.
No one was working at the time and employees hadn’t used the facility’s grinding machine since Monday afternoon, Rheinheimer told The Goshen News.
Chris Godlewski, plan director at Elkhart County Planning and Development, said the company has been building a new facility for its wood-grinding business about a mile away. That facility is nearly completed, but Godlewski said the company hadn’t yet submitted plans for its move.