Barn blaze

A fire destroyed two barns in Leelanau County on Tuesday, including the building shown. The blaze remains under investigation.

TRAVERSE CITY — Will Bunek finished cutting grass and walked inside his house after parking a mower in his old barn. He ran back minutes later to find the building engulfed.

Firefighters from four departments and Leelanau County sheriff’s deputies responded to the barn blaze on South Maple Valley Road near Otto Road, southwest of Suttons Bay, at about 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, said Sheriff Mike Borkovich. The fire spread to another building and both burned to the ground, but crews prevented the flames from spreading to the house.

“It very easily could have with the high winds,” Borkovich said.

Bunek, a Leelanau County commissioner, said he was able to pull a tractor out of the second building before it ignited. Everything in the first barn was destroyed, including a riding lawn mower, materials and equipment he uses for his electric business, an ATV and a 1979 Chevrolet Camaro he was hoping to restore, Borkovich said.

The barns were insured and Bunek hopes to rebuild.

“We hope to replace it and build it in the same style,” he said.

No injuries were reported, Borkovich said. The fire remains under investigation, though he suspects the recently used tractor was a factor.

Bunek believes the older, two-story barn was erected in 1941. The farm has been in the Bunek family for many years, beginning with Bunek’s great-grandfather.

Firefighters from the Suttons Bay Bingham Fire and Rescue Authority, Leland Fire Department, Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians Fire and Rescue and the Elmwood Township Fire and Rescue Department responded to the scene, Borkovich said.

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