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Animals die in barn fire near Middlebury

ELKHART COUNTY, Ind. – A barn fire near Middlebury resulted in the death of several farm animals early Tuesday morning.

The fire happened just after 1 a.m. on State Road 13, just south of State Road 120.

The homeowners, Shawn and Andy Papczynski, say a neighbor woke them up around 1:30 a.m. and said the barn was on fire. 

"By the time I got out to the barn, just the back of the barn had flames in it. Just within a matter of seconds of reaching the barn trying to get to the animals, it went up the left side of the barn and came straight across. It was instant. It went into a fireball," said Andy.

They tried to rescue some of the animals but were unsuccessful as one of the animals ran back into the burning barn. 

"We tried. We tried. But we got halfway into the barn and I got one of the horses to come out about five feet but he turned around and went right back in. And I couldn't get him out it was too hot," said Shawn. "There was too much falling down. He got covered in it, I'm covered in it."

Three horses and several goats died in the blaze. 

"They're my life. I've lost everything. They were family," Shawn said emotionally. 

Firefighters determined the cause of the fire was a result of severe storms that passed through the area Monday evening. 

"From what the fire department told us, they estimated that it was a lightning strike and it probably set and smoldered for a little while," said Andy. 

Friends of the couple set up a GoFundMe page to help with financial strains. Click here if you would like to donate.

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