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Engle farm escapes barn fire unscathed

Firefighters douse smoldering hay next to the historic Engle Farm barn in Central Whidbey Thursday afternoon. - Jenny Manning / Whidbey News-Times
Firefighters douse smoldering hay next to the historic Engle Farm barn in Central Whidbey Thursday afternoon.
— image credit: Jenny Manning / Whidbey News-Times

Central and North Whidbey fire departments responded to a fire at the Engle Farm Thursday afternoon.

The fire started while farmhand Martin Van Rensum operated a tub grinder, which chops straw into small bits for use as cow bedding.

Van Rensum used his cell phone to call the fire department, and alerted farm owner Bob Engle, who was plowing a nearby field, by two-way radio.

Engle's family has owned the farm for more than a century, he said, adding that this is the first fire he recalls.

The structure housing the hay did not sustain any damage, Chief Joe Biller, Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue, said. The only loss seemed to be the straw, which crews removed with a loader and doused with water and fire retardant.

Grain is also stored in the same structure, but it did not ignite, he said.

"They're really lucky about that," Biller said.

Van Rensum estimates that the fire department arrived within 10 minutes of his call.

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