Water is sprayed for a hose on an aerial firetruck’s raised ladder onto a barn destroyed by fire in North Hopewell Township Monday.
Water is sprayed for a hose on an aerial firetruck's raised ladder onto a barn destroyed by fire in North Hopewell Township Monday. (Greg Gross)

With pieces of burned hay scattered throughout his gray hair, Earl Hower watched as firefighters searched for hot spots in all that remained of his North Hopewell Township barn Monday afternoon.

Roughly half of the two-story barn showed signs of fire damage, but a fire official said it is a total loss.

Hower, who owns the 13168 Line Road property, said he parked an older tractor in the barn about 3:30 p.m. and returned a short time later to find that a hay bale was on fire.

The 69-year-old man said he used a blanket in an attempt to put out the flames that engulfed a hay bale he uses in archery practice.

"I thought I have it almost out and the bale tell apart ... and I took off," he said.

Hower promptly ran to his nearby home and called for his wife to call 911.

Engulfed: Flames from the burning hay spread, setting the barn alight. Much of the barn was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived.

"When they (firefighters) arrived, it (the barn) was pretty much burnt," said Shanan Poe, chief of the North Hopewell-Winterstown Volunteer Fire Co.

No one was injured in the fire. An estimated of damage was not available Monday night.

Poe said officials believe a backfire from the tractor touched off the blaze.

Two tractors and some small equipment that were in the barn were lost. A pickup truck that was parked near the barn sustained minor heat damage, a fire official said.

Hower said he and his wife are putting the property up for sale and had moved out most of the items once housed in the barn. They moved to the property in 1979.

He estimated that the barn is more than 100 years old.

Calling the blaze an accident, Hower said he was always careful when he pulled his tractor into the barn.

"I've done it a thousand times," he said. "I've always been very careful."

- Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.