Fire that destroyed Hardin couple’s barn expected to burn for hours

File photo of Hardin and Hull-Daisetta firefighters applying water to a barn fire in Hardin in August 2019.

By Vanesa Brashier,

A backfiring lawnmower is being blamed for a fire that destroyed the barn of James and Joann Welch of Hardin on CR 2102 around noon Saturday.

According to Liberty County Fire Marshal Bill Hergemueller, Mrs. Welch was getting off the lawnmower when it backfired and sparked a raging fire that destroyed the couple’s tractor, ATV, zero-turn lawnmower and 200 round bales of hay being stored for food for their cattle this winter.

Mrs. Welch attempted to save the ATV but had to retreat from the barn after suffering minor burns to her left arm, Hergemueller said.

Hardin Fire Chief Craig Powell (right) uses a pyrometer to check the temperature of a barn fire on CR 2102 in Hardin on Saturday. Standing to his left is Hardin firefighter Brian Heuitt.

Firefighters from Hardin, Liberty and Daisetta responded to the call for help. Hardin Fire Chief Craig Powell expects the fire will continue to burn for several hours until the hay, which is providing fuel to the fire, burns completely.

Powell took a digital reading of the fire using a pyrometer and determined it was burning at 1,250 degrees. To keep the fire from spreading to nearby trees, firefighters applied water periodically. A nearby pond on the Welch property provided water for the pumper trucks.

Neighbors in the community reported hearing explosions, but Hergemueller said the noises likely came from the exploding tractor tires.

The Welches said they are thankful to be insured, so most of their losses should be covered.

Daisetta Fire Chief Memo Gomez (center) is accompanied by firefighters as he walks away from a barn fire on CR 2102 in Hardin on Saturday. The barn was a complete loss for owners James and Joann Welch.
Hardin Grocery provided food for the Hardin, Daisetta and Liberty firefighters.
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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.

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