Volunteers, employers key in fighting barn fire in Berks

'We're fortunate in our area'

WASHINGTON TWP., Pa. - Fires like the one that destroyed a barn in eastern Berks County on Friday often pose a challenge to firefighters, most of whom give of their own time to answer the call.

"This time of the day, we're relying on people leaving work, if they can," said Chief Michael Mutter, Eastern Berks Fire Department, "or people that work second and third shift that can help us out, so manpower is definitely decreased."

Lack of manpower is one of the reasons officials at the fire scene in Washington Township quickly struck a second alarm, ensuring their efforts to battle the blaze involved a sufficient number of firefighters.

"We're fortunate in our area," Mutter told 69 News. "We have a lot of good employers that do let us leave work for something like this, knowing that they could one day need us as well, and they appreciate it."

The firefighters also devote a lot of their own time to training, and it just so happens that a pond near Friday's fire scene plays a key role in making sure they're prepared when the call comes.

"We practice a lot out of the pond, so our guys are very familiar with what it can do and what we need to do to get water out of it, and it worked very well," Mutter said.

Despite having enough water and manpower to fight the fast-moving flames and prevent the fire from spreading to nearby structures, the barn's facade still posed a challenge to firefighters.

"Unfortunately, the barn was covered in tin, which looks nice," Mutter said, "however, it doesn't help our firefighting habits at all, so that was a struggle for us."

No one was injured.

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