Fire destroys most of Montgomery County’s snow plows

CRAWFORDSVILLE, Ind. (WLFI) – Crews responded to a fire at the Montgomery County Highway Department Sunday night.

Just before 8 p.m., Montgomery County emergency dispatch said they received a call of a structure fire at 818 N. Whitlock Avenue in Crawfordsville.

All of the department’s vehicles are stored at this one location. The fire wiped out almost its entire fleet. County officials estimate around $3 million in damage. Workers are left scrambling for a means to do their jobs, and with winter coming, a potentially new problem awaits.

A day later and smoke still rises from the barn. The barn is sued to store the department’s trucks.

“It has a big, huge impact. We’ve got between 25-30 employees and they depend on those trucks everyday to do what they got to do,” said Terry Hockersmith of the Montgomery Highway Department.

The fire was so massive, that it caused safety concerns for firefighters.

“The biggest concern we had were the tires on the dump trucks blowing up last night and just, they were throwing shrapnel around,” said Chief Scott Busenbark of the Crawfordsville Fire Department.

Altogether, the fire destroyed fifteen vehicles, all but two were snow removal trucks, the department’s entire fleet of snow trucks.

“The big thing right now is we, we’ll probably have snow withing 3-4 weeks and we’re going to have to find a way to push the snow,” said Hockersmith.

According to Hockersmith, the temporary plan is to get help from neighboring counties. Employees are using some of the smaller trucks for road repairs but other projects will have to wait.

“Our plan is to try to replace these trucks as quickly as we can. Our insurance company got on the ball yesterday evening in fact and started looking and searching and trying to find a place to get some trucks,” said Hockersmith.

It took firefighters about two hours to put out the blaze. The state fire marshal is now investigating.

“Just from the dollar loss we had and from the size of the fire. It’s going to be hard to pinpoint exactly where that fire started. So, we call the state fire marshal,” said Busenbark.

Hockersmith says it’s unclear when things will be back to normal, but said it typically takes six months to a year to replace new trucks. He says they’re considering used vehicles, which would speed up the process. Hockersmith said aside from an “affordable” deductible, insurance will cover 100% of the damages.

No injuries were reported.