Fire near Cisco destroys hangar, experimental plane, vehicles
A storage shed used as a hangar for a rural Cisco landing strip was destroyed by fire Sunday evening.
An estimated 30 firefighters from six fire districts battled the fire at 179 East 1300 North Road, which claimed not only the 40- by 60-foot shed but several vehicles, including an experimental plane constructed by the company that uses Gary Norfleet's landing strip as a launching point for crop-dusting.
"The shed was fully engulfed when it was reported" at 6:29 p.m, said Ron Weishaar, chief of the Cisco Fire Protection District. Of immediate concern were farm chemical cans that were exploding during the fire, and a pair of 250-gallon tanks of aviation fuel located less than 100 feet from the shed.
"That was our first concern, cooling down those tanks," added Weishaar. The tanks were saved, as was a one-story home on the property.
But Weishaar still estimated the loss at $200,000 due to the contents of the structure. Lost was the plane, a dual-cab pickup truck, a motor home, tractor, antique tractor, an ATV and several pieces of professional lawn-care equipment.
Due to the high-dollar loss, the cause of the blaze is considered undetermined at this time, but Weishaar said he had "no reason to believe there is anything suspicious in nature about this fire."
The state fire marshal's office is investigating, which Weishaar said is common when the damage estimate is that high.
The area used on the Norfleet farm by Mike's Aerial Service was the subject of a public hearing in January. The Piatt County Board had been asked by a neighbor to consider revoking the grass strip's restricted landing area, but after hearing testimony county officials saw no reason to do so.
Fire departments from Argenta-Oreana, Bement, Cerro Gordo, Weldon and the White Heath-based Mid-Piatt County Fire Protection District responded to the two-alarm fire. Firemen were on the scene until approximately 10 p.m.