Family-owned lumber yard destroyed by fire in Wabash

Local News

WABASH, Ind. (WANE) – Fire ripped through a family-owned business in downtown Wabash.

Fire crews on scene said Yarnelle Lumber Company caught fire around 5 p.m. Wednesday.

NewsChannel 15 received numerous reports of a large fire around 5:30 p.m. at a lumber yard in downtown Wabash. The lumber yard is located at 295 West Canal Street between the popular Honeywell Center and the Wabash YMCA.

Witnesses said billowing black smoke amid the flames was so dense bystanders couldn’t see down West Canal Street. Dozens of people looked on as firefighters worked to get the fire under control.

“Well everyone kept saying it was Honeywell then they said it’s the YMCA so I didn’t really know what place was on fire,” said Skyla Wilcox who lives nearby.

Jill Yarnelle said the company has been around since 1860 and her husband Ken is the fifth generation to run the business. Around 4 p.m. her husband noticed a strange noise coming from the fuse box, she said.

“The fuse box was making sort of a buzzing sound,” she said. “So he said this is weird.”

She said he got the fire extinguisher and called electrical company. But Within an hour Jill said the building was fully engulfed in flames. Her husband was in the business at the time of the fire but was able to get out safely.

Crews were on scene battling the fire for about three hours. High winds made it difficult for firefighters to battle the blaze. Smoke from the fire showed up on the National Weather Service’s weather radar.

“The wind was a problem,” said Wabash Fire Chief Barry Stroup. “It kind of swept in through the building a lot of the building was open on the inside.”

The fire also threatened other buildings. The YMCA was evacuated because it started to catch fire. There is some damage to the building.

Another business, Inguard Insurance, was also evacuated because firefighters said it was at risk of catching fire.

Crews cut power lines because they started to catch fire as well. Jill Yarnelle believes electrical problems caused the fire but the chief would not confirm the cause. In the end, a decades old business is likely to close it’s doors for good.

“Well they’re already talking about getting a bulldozer and pushing it all in,” said Yarnelle.

But some customers are hoping there is still some way to salvage it.

“I don’t know if they’re going to be able to fix it or not but hopefully we’re able to help them,” said Wilcox. “Hopefully we’re able to get some donations and stuff for them.”

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