Fire investigators may never learn what sparked the former Emge meat packing plant near fort branch to go up in flames, but the blaze could turn into a powerful teaching tool. Flames destroyed part of storage barn at the closed down plant Tuesday, bringing fire crews from all over Gibson county and other parts of southwest Indiana. The fire also happened just 24 hours before the start of the 2007 Indiana Volunteer Firefighters Association meeting in Evansville. Association Vice President David Elick says the outpouring of support from neighboring fire companies is common among volunteer departments. But he says the need for all that extra manpower also illustrates an important lesson about all volunteer crews. During the day, most volunteers are at work, so when a fire strikes, they must clear their absence with their employers before responding to the fire. Not all companies are willing to let volunteers off to fight fires, even though about 75% of the U.S. is covered by volunteer companies. Putting full time companies in place to cover those areas would sent taxes skyrocketing, says Elick.