$45,000 Loss From Martin County Barn Fires

A Martin County tobacco farmer who lost three of his barns in a fire says it could have been much worse.

Rusty Harrell of oak city says a middle barn caught on fire Saturday night and it spread to the two on each side.

Harrell says the barns are kept at a high heat, up to 180 degrees. He says if the fire departments had not gotten there so quickly, more crops could have been in danger.

Fortunately, Harrell has 38 tobacco barns remaining with 3,000 pounds in each. He says the loss from the fire is around $45,000.


A Fire Chief out of Martin County says that a multiple fire department effort and calm winds aided in a firefight that could have been much worse.

Oak City Fire Chief Butch Beach says that they received the call for a fire in the area of 1942 N. Hwy 125 around 8:30 Saturday night just 2 miles from the Halifax County line.

Chief Butch says that 3 barns were destroyed by the fire, and that a 4th barn had caught fire, but firefighters were able to put that out. Around 40 firefighters in all got the blaze under control in about an hour. Another 2 and half hours were spent to make sure it was all out.

Chief Butch says that the blaze could have been much worse as there were 16 barns in all in the area, and that all were around 5 feet apart from each other.

It appears the fire started as a result of a mechanical failure with a burner in one of the barns, according to Chief Butch. He says that a burner is used to produce high heat inside the barns as part of the curing process for the tobacco.

Chief Butch says while it appears accidental, the exact cause may never be known. He says that no foul play is suspected.

Oak City, Hamilton, Robersonville and Hobgood fire departments responded to the scene.

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Several fire departments are at the scene of multiple tobacco barns on fire.

Martin County 911 says that fire crews responded to 1942 NC Highway 125 for a report of 4 barns on fire around 8:34 Saturday night.

The fires are said to be under control at this time.

No word on any injuries at this time.

No word on the cause.

Oak City, Hamilton, Robersonville and Hobgood fire departments responded to the scene.