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Chester County Press

Historic barn destroyed by lightning

09/02/2014 07:47PM ● By Lev

By Richard L. Gaw

Staff Writer

A Landenberg barn whose origins trace back to the 1870s was severely damaged by a fire on Aug. 31, which was caused by severe lightning that swept through southern Chester County.

At about 6:15 p.m., soon after a deluge of rain had begun pelting Landenberg, Bronwyn Hertler, a resident of 303 Newark Road, heard a loud, booming noise coming from the direction of a barn that  stands approximately 50 feet behind the home. She then looked out her bedroom window and saw smoke emanating from the barn and, being the only one in the Hertler family at home, she immediately contacted 9-1-1 and according to her mother Brigid’s cell phone, texted her mother at 6:17 p.m, with the words, “Fire. Emergency in barn.”

Within 15 minutes, the first responders of what would eventually be eight fire companies, as well as ambulance and emergency service paramedics, arrived on the scene. Fire fighters on the scene were from the Avondale, Hockessin, Kennett, Longwood, Mill Creek, Modena, Oxford and West Chester fire companies.

“They were parked up and down Newark Road, waiting their turn to provide water,” said Carol Hipkins, a bystander at the fire and a former resident of the home.

It took the fire companies about two hours to put out the fire entirely, which had at one point during the blaze began to catch onto a rear corner of the Hertler home.

Hipkins’ parents purchased the Victorian farm house home in 1948 and sold the home to the Hertlers’ in Sept. 2001. The origins of the home, she said, date back to 1873, when the home and adjoining barn were first built and owned by Dr. Benjamin Thompson, a doctor in the Landenberg area during the late 19th Century. Hipkins said that Thompson kept his horses in the barn, while he stored his horse buggies in a nearby garage.

In 2007, the Hertler family added a $50,000 renovation to the barn, which was used as a storage area for Green Master, Inc., a landscaping company based in nearby Delaware, which is owned by Russell Hertler. In addition to business-related equipment such as snow plows, hedge trimmers and chain saws, several pesonal items were lost in the fire. Hertler said that he plans to build a new barn in place of the one destroyed in the fire.

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail rgaw@chestercounty.com .

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