SHEFFIELD – An Illinois Department of Transportation salt barn located near Interstate 80 and Route 40 caught fire mid-morning Tuesday after a hot ember from a nearby brush fire blew into the salt barn’s roof vent.
Sheffield Fire Department was called to the scene around 10:30 a.m., shortly before Manlius Fire Department was called for mutual aid.
Sheffield Fire Chief Andy Lanxon said with the wind blowing in a northwest direction, it made it easy for the embers from the brush fire to get caught in the wind and sucked into the salt barn’s vent. The embers quickly caused flames to the vent area of the salt barn, and firefighters were called immediately.
Lanxon said he believed an IDOT employee was the one to call in the fire.
“Luckily someone was there when it started because if someone wouldn’t have noticed it right away, there would have been a lot more damage,” he said.
Firefighters used hoses to extinguish the flames coming from the roof vent. Lanxon confirmed the fire caused only minor roofing damage and said the salt within the barn, although it was soaked from the water, would be salvaged.
Lanxon said when salt is spread on the roads in snow and rain, it doesn’t dissolve or get damaged, so the unused salt in the barn should still be usable and not have to be replaced.
Firefighters also used hoses to put out the large brush pile which was burning in a location east of the salt barn. Lanxon said no injuries were reported.
Firefighters were on the scene about an hour.
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