Tobacco Barn fire flames

Flames rise from the top of a tobacco barn Wednesday morning along Hickory Grove Road in northern Calloway County. Firefighters were on the scene for several hours at the barn, about 10 miles north of Murray.

CALLOWAY COUNTY — Firefighters managed to prevent damage to some adjoining structures Wednesday when a tobacco barn was destroyed by fire in the northernmost part of Calloway County.

At least two buildings – including another tobacco barn that was in the firing process of preparing tobacco to be shipped to market – were within a short distance of the burning barn along Hickory Grove Road, between the communities of Dexter and Kirksey  At times, flames rose to about 50 feet out of the barn’s roof with smoke from the blaze visible for a few miles.

“I started seeing it about four or five miles out,” said Calloway County Fire-Rescue Capt. Bill Duncan, who said he knew immediately what that sight meant. “You knew it would be burning pretty good, and, sure enough, when we pulled up, it was fully involved. We knew, at that point, that we were going to be trying to protect the other structures because that was really all we could do.”

Duncan said the barn was burned to the ground, except for a few poles that are used to support the structure, which is covered in metal sheets. He identified the barn’s owner as Michael Palmer and estimated that about two acres’ worth of tobacco was destroyed.

Duncan said it is not known how the fire started, but he said a strong possibility might be something that causes many of these events – the wind. He said a steady north wind blowing in the northern Calloway County hills Wednesday also made fighting the blaze quite difficult.

“Any time the wind blows like that, it can cause trouble really quick, and from watching the wind while we were there (Wednesday), it was strong enough to do that. All it takes is a little wind getting underneath one of those doors. Then, all you need is a spark to go to the wrong place, and it only takes one,” Duncan said, explaining how the wind also was causing problems with the effort to control the blaze.

“And that was the wrong direction for us to have it blowing, because that was toward those other buildings. It also was blowing the fire into a sawdust pile that was near the barn and it did catch fire about three times, so that was another things we had to deal with. Luckily, we were able to keep the fire off of those other buildings. None of those other buildings had any damage.”

No injuries were reported. Duncan said firefighters were on the scene for about three hours. He also said that the blaze, while mostly out, will continue to smolder or at least the next day or two.

CCFR responded with about 10 trucks, Duncan said, and about 16 firefighters.

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