By Dave Pearce
Mount Vernon Fire Chief Wes Dixon has released the findings of State Fire Marshal investigators and have ruled the Wednesday morning fire at the Posey County Co-op as accidental.
The morning fire closed the main east-west route through Mount Vernon just as parents and school buses were making their way to nearby West School and on to their jobs.
The fire is reported to have broken out somewhere around 7 a.m. at the Posey County Co-Op on West Fourth Street in Mount Vernon and is said to have destroyed over a million dollars worth of farm equipment and semi-tractor trailers.
Firefighters say it took 45 minutes to get the fire under control, because the hydrants didn’t have enough water pressure. Witnesses said water hoses had to be run from as far as four or five blocks away to provide water to fight the blaze.
The fire started in an office in the building, and the building and all its contents have been ruled a total loss.
Area residents were concerned because the Co-op provides fuel and fertilizer to many areas but the tanks nearest the fire never presented a threat. Officials at the Co-op indicated the tanks contained only fertilizer.
Multiple fire departments responded to the fire and people nearby reported hearing multiple explosions.
Co-op representatives indicated the “explosions” could have been the popping of tires or fuel as several tractors and some propane was stored in the building.
Owners say they were able to rip the back doors off the building and drive a small truck out before the fire spread to two sprayers and a small amount of product inside the building.
Co-op management told the media that when crews from several different departments arrived, it took 15 minutes before they could start pumping water on to the building. They say hydrants in the area didn’t have sufficient water pressure.
The second challenge was getting the roof off the structure so they could use ladder trucks to attack the flames from multiple angles. But, the moment the building was opened up, the fire grew.
“As soon as the doors were open on the back side the fire obviously erupted and once you give it some oxygen and we just continued to keep fighting it. It took us about 45 minutes or so to get it under control,” Dixon said.
Owners say they’ve lost about a million dollars between the equipment and the building itself. With busy season just around the corner, they’ve got to be quick to rebuild and get things running again.
By Dave Pearce
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