Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Fire destroys barn, 40 head of stock in sub-zero cold

Billowing clouds of smoke combined with steam emanated from a barn fire east of Baldwin last Wednesday morning at the Mike Haller farm. Firefighters fought the fire and then remained on the scene for cleanup well into the evening hours.

Mike Haller, engaged in the terrible work of removing animal carcasses Monday morning, took a brief time out to talk about his plans for the future. He mentioned beef or raising heifers as possibilities.

Whatever the future holds for Haller, it won't be dairying, he said. "The dairy industry is too tough for the small farmer," he said.

United Fire and Rescue and other emergency agencies were called to the Haller farm with the barn on fire about 5:50 Wednesday morning when the temperature hovered between -15° and -20° F. The farm is about two miles east of Baldwin on 230th Street.

Mike has spent his whole life on that farm and in 2001 he bought it from his grandfather, Galen Anderson. His grandparents still live with him on the farm.

The fire appears to have started in a light switch, Mike said he was told by an insurance adjuster. The adjuster said the barn is a total loss because even though the lower part of it is intact, water that has gotten into the cement blocks will freeze and crack and make it unusable.

Lost with the barn were close to 40 head of cows and calves, Mike said. He said he still has two dry cows and heifers that weren't inside the barn. Also lost in the fire were 800 bales of hay, 1,000 bales of straw and chopped straw.

The barn was metal sheathed, said Mike, and that metal probably is the reason that a close-by shed and a feed bin weren't also destroyed by the heat of the fire, although a beam did fall on an auger and damage that.

Baldwin Station Chief of United Fire and Rescue Gary Newton said there were apparently three injuries suffered by firefighters, although hopefully none will prove to be serious or permanent. One injury was to a knee, another to a back and a third firefighter suffered frostbite to his

A total of about 185,000 gallons of water was poured on the fire and one of the firetrucks suffered a frozen line during the fight against the fire. Also responding to a mutual aid call were Roberts-Warren and Spring Valley.