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Posted on Mon, Aug 12, 2013 : 12:23 p.m.

Officials: Pole barn fire believed to have started by lightning causes rocket-like explosion

By John Counts


This hydraulic cylinder reportedly shot into the sky like a rocket at a pole barn fire near Chelsea Monday morning.

Courtesy of CAFA

A fire that burned a pole barn to the ground Monday morning near Chelsea was likely caused by a lightning strike, officials said.

The blaze caused an explosion in the barn while fire crews were at the scene and sent a hydraulic cylinder shooting up into the air like a rocket, said Fire Captain Derek Klink of the Chelsea Area Fire Authority.

There were no reported injuries.

Chelsea fire crews were called to a residence in the 1100 block of Pierce Road in Sylvan Township at 8:01 a.m. for reports of a barn fire. A neighbor said they saw a bolt of lightning connect with the pole barn on an adjacent property, Klink said.

When fire crews arrived at 8:07 a.m., the pole barn was fully engulfed with flames. There was also a loud explosion followed by a hydraulic cylinder being launched into the sky, according to Klink.

"It shot straight up in the air," he said.

Crews had the fire out by 8:35 a.m. and cleared the scene by 10:21 a.m. The barn, which was filled with various tools and machinery, was a total loss. Klink did not yet have any financial damage estimates.

While lightning is believed to have started the fire, it remains under investigation.

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John Counts covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Wed, Aug 14, 2013 : 3:10 p.m.

Sounds like lightening rods are in order to avoid this kind of thing again. Glad to hear no one or thing was hurt. That cylinder explosion must have been a sight to see.


Tue, Aug 13, 2013 : 2:07 p.m.

Insurance is tough on Pole Barns, if you have any sort of heater in it, you have to have separation with a fire wall or cabinet away from anything flammable.


Tue, Aug 13, 2013 : 2:25 a.m.

At one point there was a "rocket like explosion" and that was followed by a hydraulic cylinder shooting "like a rocket" into the air. Lots of rocket-type behaviors, if you ask me. Sends a thrill right through ya, doesn't it? ;-) And meanwhile, down at the offices of our own Daily Planet, Clark Kent finished his fifth viewing of the movie, "Rocket Man." And then he sits and tries to reason it out carefully, "Would Lois like me more if I exploded like a rocket or should I shoot like a rocket into the air?" Stay tuned for the next episode of Little Tool Shed Fire on the Prairie. Zzzz

Ann English

Mon, Aug 12, 2013 : 11:19 p.m.

Those propane cylinders burning at a Blue Rhino plant in Tavares, Florida are still fresh in my mind. I'm glad to read that this fire, with this cylinder, didn't kill anybody and was put out rather fast. No wind blowing the fire where the firefighters didn't want it to spread, and just one explosion. I figure the firefighters know better than anyone else just what attracts lightning, whether it's part of a house or barn.


Mon, Aug 12, 2013 : 8:47 p.m.

I've grown suspicious of sheds lately, and it's reassuring to see a shed used as a shed. I thought they'd all been converted to exotic marijuana production and processing.

Reverend Bubba X

Tue, Aug 13, 2013 : 1:07 a.m.

Butane cylinder? Try looking at the photo that accompanies the story-it's a hydraulic cylinder. Sheesh.


Tue, Aug 13, 2013 : 12:45 a.m.

Unless, of course, that hydraulic cylinder that exploded was actually a butane cannister.

Linda Peck

Mon, Aug 12, 2013 : 5:50 p.m.

I don't see any injuries reported, so I assume that is the case. Good news there.

John of Saline

Mon, Aug 12, 2013 : 5:37 p.m.

They never know what fun stuff is in the burning building. Pressurized cylinders? Flammable liquids? Plastics that give of evil fumes when burned? Pesticides? Yeesh. Tough work.


Mon, Aug 12, 2013 : 4:54 p.m.

Thanks for reporting this story. It demonstrates the extreme danger that Firefighters confront when called to a fire. This is the sort danger of which the general public is unaware.