Large fire destroys home and multiple buidlings

WTHI Photo / Ethan Quarterman
WTHI Photo / Ethan Quarterman

OAKTOWN, Ind. (WTHI) – A fire that sparked on Saturday morning in KnoxCounty destroyed a business and a home.

The fire started just after 10 this morning at 1100 257 N. Texas Gas, south of Oaktown.

Over a dozen crews battled not only the fire but dangerous chemicals inside the building.

News 10 was on the scene and spoke with officials and the owner.

“Most of my kids spent most of their growing days here. I raised step kids here. I’m pretty blank right now,” says Chris Hall, the owner.

Hall is devastated after the massive fire destroyed not only his home but the warehouse used for his wood pallet recycling business.

“I have an employee who was working this morning who came to me pretty shook up and said he had a fire in some of the pallets. I found 2,500 pallets with two stacks in the middle of it on fire,” says Hall.

It’s still too early to tell what sparked those pallets into the dangerous blaze.

“Yesterday afternoon we burnt some trash out behind the building. It must have blew some embers into the pallets and sat there smoldering for awhile and sparked the fire,” says Hall.

High winds helped the fire spread quickly.

Even with a water wall, the fire traveled from the packing shed to the Hall’s two story home.

“It got up into the attic area the wind and being out in the country with no hydrants available hampered us tremendously. We were close to getting it knocked down and the wind shifted on us, and we didn’t stand a chance,” says Stephen Hobbs, Chief of the Oaktown Fire Department.

More dangerous than being without water was what was inside the building.

“There was a 400lb. tank of anhydrous ammonia that did blow up on us. That hampered us as well because we had to change our firefighting operations,” says Hobbs.

There was never an evacuation of the area.

Fire crews contained the leak.

Luckily, Hall escaped the fire safely, but he was only able to grab a few priceless possessions.

“I got the pictures of my family. This is just a test in life, and really all these things are just material things. The important thing is there is no loss of life,” says Hall.

Fire crews say that small fires are likely at that home for several days to come.

They’ll be looking for an official cause as well.

Hall does have insurance on the property but does not know if it will be enough to rebuild both his home and the business.

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