Flames claim old barn near Bigelow
BIGELOW -- An old barn burned to the ground late Friday night between Bigelow and Worthington.
"It was totally engulfed by the time the page went out," said Paul Hohensee, chief of the Bigelow Fire Department. "(The fire) had a big head start."
Landowner Joe VanderKooi had planned on demolishing the old barn eventually, Hohensee reported, and it was being used as a weather shelter for cattle.
Fortunately, no animals were in the barn when it was destroyed.
"That would have been devastating, because they raise dairy cattle, and it's hard to replace good dairy cattle," Hohensee said. "A building, you can always rebuild."
The cause of the fire was believed to be either the removal of a silo and loader next to it or an electric fencer, but because the building was not insured, the cause will likely not be investigated any further.
Because the barn was already on the ground by the time firefighters arrived, they concentrated on protecting surrounding buildings and, essentially, let the barn burn.
The Round Lake Fire Department and Worthington Fire Department both provided assistance at the scene in the form of tankers.
The VanderKoois were at home watching television at the time of the fire, but because the wind was blowing in the wrong direction, smoke never went toward their house and they didn't realize the barn was on fire. A neighbor noticed it first and called for help.
"(The fire) just got a big head start," Hohensee said. "And when buildings are that old, the wood's really dry. They just go up, 'woosh!'"