DSU storage barn destroyed by fire

The aftermath of the barn fire at Delaware State University on Friday morning. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER – No injuries were reported during a Thursday night fire that destroyed a nearly 100 year old Delaware State University storage barn.

The blaze was reported at 7:36 p.m. and took just under two hours to extinguish, according to the Dover Fire Department. After the fire was under control, another 90 minutes was spent on cleanup operations.

The city fire marshal responded to the campus and continued to investigate the cause and origin on Friday.

Two vehicles – a van and pickup truck – next to the 5,000 square foot structure were also engulfed, according to Dover FD First Assistant Chief David Carey. Several other state-owned vehicles parked nearby were not affected, he said.

The barn was apparently unoccupied at the time, though officials reported that some Christmas decorations and planting equipment were inside the structure that’s situated near the school’s agriculture department and facilities building in the northwest part of campus.

The fire was well under way by the time DSU public safety personnel arrived to check on it, a school spokesman said.

Chief Carey said Dover FD arrived on scene to find the barn fully engulfed, and a second alarm was called to get assistance from the Cheswold, Leipsic and Little Creek fire companies.

Based on the advanced nature of the blaze, firefighters took a “defensive approach” to quelling it, using a ladder truck to flow water down onto the top of the structure, with handheld hoses shooting water onto the sides to stop the flames from spreading, Assistant Chief Carey said.

“With that amount of fire we would never send someone inside,” he said.

The barn was constructed with cinder blocks on the first floor, wood on the second floor and a metal roof. Records showed it was built sometime in the mid-1920s.

Firefighters initially feared that a nearby silo might have caught fire, but their concerns proved unfounded after hoses were sprayed onto the area to stop any potential spread. The barn is situated next to woods.

While a few students arrived to watch the fire and response, Assistant Chief Carey said the scene was quickly secured. Flames were clearly visible on U.S. 13 next to DSU, he said.

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