Officials in a small central Indiana town plan to seek reimbursement from a straw-storage business after fire crews spent weeks fighting a fire smoldering amid corncobs and straw bales.
Regina Schmitt, clerk-treasurer of the town of Windfall in Tipton County, said the smoky fire was first reported Dec. 16 and was still burning over the weekend on land leased by Simpson Straw LLC.
She said volunteer firefighters pulled about 900,000 gallons of treated water from the town fighting the fire in the pile of corncobs, which stood up to 30 feet high. The town of about 700 people had to cut off its water supply twice because its water tower emptied and pumps were overheating, Schmitt said.
Firefighters eventually switched to pulling water from nearby creeks to fight the blaze.
Schmitt said the town is working to generate a bill for the water to send to Simpson Straw’s insurer to seek reimbursement, the Kokomo Tribune reported.
“That’s almost one million gallons of water that our little town can’t just give away for free,” she said. “I don’t want our town’s rates to have to be raised to compensate and absorb that cost. That’s not fair to our citizens.”
Schmitt said she will also begin compiling a list of residents who experienced health issues, such as headaches, sore throats and vomiting, due to the large amounts of smoke the fire produced in the town.
Schmitt urged people to hold onto receipts for any expenses they incurred, including by moving to hotels until the smoke clears, so those bills can be sent to the straw storage business’ insurer.