Arson was to blame for a Batesville barn blaze that occurred Sunday, Dec. 2. An Indiana State Fire Marshal’s Office investigator made that determination after exploring the scene Dec. 3, said Batesville Fire Chief Todd Schutte.
When the fire at 675 John St. at the city-owned baseball complex was reported at 6:19 p.m., the chief rushed to the site. “When I left my house, there was just a big glow in the sky .... (It was) hot, lots of flames. The barn was fully engulfed.”
Seventeen Batesville and two Morris firefighters responded. There were no injuries, but they had to be careful around a downed electrical line, which Duke Energy workers disconnected.
“The guys got a pretty good knockdown on it,” the chief said. “We were fortunate to have a hydrant right there. We actually saved the first level,” but everything was charred and will have to be demolished. “It was a total loss.”
“It was disheartening” as Faron Blessing, Batesville Youth Baseball League past president and equipment purchasing manager, watched the building burn. He thought, “There goes all of our equipment.”
Lost were 60 fully- stocked team bags. Each one included six helmets, catcher’s gear, bats, baseballs – “everything a team needs to have practice and play a game.”
Also destroyed were pitching machines, throw-down bases, a popcorn popper and freezer.
According to Blessing, “We moved everything” to the barn a month ago from a rented storage unit.
He explained, “A lot of our funding we had available went to the new fields. I’m not sure we have enough funding” to replace the 60 bags.
The Indiana State Fire Marshal’s Office is offering a $5,000 reward for any information about the intentional fire.
Meanwhile, the Batesville Police Department is still investigating the crime. “They’re looking for leads,” Schutte reported. Persons with information should call 934-3131.