Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Arsonist May Be Setting Fires on Farms In County

This story was published by The Ypsilanti Daily Press Friday, May 6, 1938. Because of the sudden increase in the number of farm fires Sheriff Jacob B Andres of Washtenaw County is becoming increasingly apprehensive over the possibility of a ‘firebug’. A large fare in Dexter Wednesday evening caused the death of a woman, a fire in Dixboro Thursday night, and the destruction of two barns near Bridgewater Thursday night added greatly to the suspicions. Thursday evening the two barns on different farms belonging to William Klug were almost totally destroyed. The farms are located about seven miles west of Saline and one mile from Bridgewater and are a quarter of a mile apart. The place is known as the Phillip Blum farm. The first fire was discovered about seven p. m. when the barn on the unoccupied farm burned. Eight horses, two colts, a tractor, tools stored hay, straw and grain, and several small buildings were destroyed, although the vacant house was in no danger at any time. The horses had been put in the barn about 6:30. The second fire started in the other barn about 10:15 p. m. At this farm Mr. Klug resides with Mr. and Mrs. Charles Hincks. About 30 head of cattle, 17 head of young stock, one horse and one colt, another tractor, tools hay and grain and a toolshed were destroyed. This barn survived a fire last fall which took all the other buildings with the exception of the house. As in the first fire, the house was not endangered. Origin of the fires was undetermined. The first barn was not wired for electricity. The Manchester Fire Department refused to answer the call to the first fire without a cash deposit. The second fire was answered by the Bridgewater Fire Department which had been forgotten in the first excitement. The second fire could not have been caused from sparks from the first as the wind was in the wrong direction. Mr. Hinck discovered the fire. Flames illumined the sky and were visible for miles Thursday night as the house at the Haskell Shankland farm on the Town Line Rd. north of Dixboro, caused extensive damage. An estimate of the loss has not been made and no one was injured in the blaze which attracted a large crowd of neighbors and passing motorists. Mr. Shankland was in the yard at the time the fire started. He noticed smoke on the east of the house, and on investigating, discovered the fire burning around a door frame and up the side of the room. The first ones who arrived saved most of the furniture and some dishes from the first floor; nothing was saved from upstairs, and only a few cans of fruit from the cellar. In about ten minutes it was too hot and dangerous to try to remove anything else. The woodshed, chicken coops and woodpile burned, and the firefighters put all their effort into keeping sparks and small fires from igniting the big barn. The house was gone when the Salem Fire Department arrived but they stayed awhile to put out fires that the brisk wind carried toward the barn and other small buildings from the burning timbers and trees. The house was covered by insurance.

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