Rebuilding begins after barn fires; investigation also underway

Members of the community help Nelson Martin rebuild his barn near Goshen following a September fire. Farm Bureaus are now offering a $10,000 reward for a conviction in a series of arson barn fires.

GOSHEN — Four county Farm Bureaus have created a $10,000 reward fund for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) involved in a string of barn fires across northern Indiana.

Elkhart, Kosciusko, St. Joseph and Marshall county Farm Bureaus each contributed to the fund, the farming advocacy companies announced in a press release. The bureaus said there have been at least 12 barn fires — each under investigation for arson — since the beginning of the year. All but one of the fires has occurred since April. Police reported earlier that eight of the fires have occurred in Elkhart County, the latest two having been on Oct. 4.

Many of the fires happened within a short distance of each other and in a close timeframe. The property owners have not only lost their barns, but also equipment, hay and livestock, the press release states.

“The county Farm Bureaus hope that offering a large reward will encourage anyone with information to come forward and put an end to the damage and destruction that local farmers are experiencing,” said Lynn Loucks, Elkhart County Farm Bureau president.

He added, “We hope a reward will help catch the arsonist sooner. The county Farm Bureaus want to protect the farming community and prevent any more barns from being targeted.”

The reward is limited to information that leads to a conviction of criminal arson committed on land zoned for ag/farm structures in Elkhart, Kosciusko, St. Joseph and Marshall counties. The reward will remain available until the parties responsible are found. The complete program rules and details can be found by contacting the Elkhart County Farm Bureau office.

The Farm Bureaus ask that anyone with information about the fires contact Detective Bob Smith at (574) 891-2352 or email the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office’s tip line at

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