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Fire destroys structures in rural Bigelow

The Bigelow Fire Department and other agencies responded to a barn fire Monday night in rural Bigelow. (Ryan McGaughey/Daily Globe)1 / 2
A corn crib and hoop barn burn Monday night in rural Bigelow. (Scott Corey/Submitted Photo)2 / 2

BIGELOW -- A brush fire that was thought to be extinguished sparked a building fire that destroyed an old corn crib and a hoop structure Monday night in Section 22 of Wilson Township, Osceola County.

The Bigelow Fire Department was paged to the Jeff Van Gelder farm, 5653 120th St., at 5:30 p.m. According to Bigelow Fire Chief Paul Hohensee, the corn crib was a total loss by the time they arrived, and the hoop barn was "over half burnt and starting to collapse."

"Basically we just protected the garage that wasn't very far away and the grain bins," Hohensee said. "They were close to the burning area, too."

The hoop barn was used to store machinery. Among the items lost in the blaze were a silage wagon, smaller grain wagons, tires and a 500-gallon diesel barrel that contained some fuel. The barrel had exploded prior to the arrival of firefighters, Hohensee said.

The man who had set the brush fire had gone into Sibley, Iowa, after he thought the fire was out, Hohensee said, adding that a daughter, who was home at the time, later noticed the buildings were burning.

Hohensee, who was out raking hay, could see the smoke from several miles away, but figured it was just a big brush pile. By the time the Bigelow Fire Department was called out, he estimated the fire had been burning for 40 minutes.

The brush pile had been located about 30 feet away from the buildings, Hohensee said.

"All it takes is a hot ember to blow into the corn crib -- the crib was really old," he said, adding that it wouldn't take much to start a fire with the building's dry wood.

Bigelow firefighters remained on the scene until about 8 p.m. Monday, and mutual aid was called in from Sibley for tankers, as well as from Ocheyedan, Iowa, and Round Lake.

"I'd like to thank all of the departments that came and helped," Hohensee said. "All of the tanker trucks kept up pretty nice."

He also cautioned people to be careful when they burn brush piles.

"All it takes is one hot ash," he said.

Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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