Early morning blaze destroys three buildings on rural Bigelow acreage

BIGELOW -- A corn crib, chicken house and shed, along with a camper, ATV and construction tools were destroyed by an early morning fire Thursday west of Bigelow.

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Three buildings on the Luis Cazares and Susue Cortez acreage were destroyed by fire early Thursday morning west of Bigelow. (Tim Middagh / The Globe)

BIGELOW - A corn crib, chicken house and shed, along with a camper, ATV and construction tools were destroyed by an early morning fire Thursday west of Bigelow.

Several chickens, including two dozen baby chicks, and six ducks were also lost in the blaze.

The Bigelow Fire Department was dispatched at 4:41 a.m. to 23842 330th St., and according to Fire Chief Steve Hohensee, the corn crib and a shed were already a total loss and the chicken house was fully engulfed when they arrived on scene.

“They slept through most of it,” Hohensee said of the acreage’s owners, Susue Cortez and Luis Cazares. “It was on a side of the acreage where they couldn’t really see it.”

Cortez said they were awoken by a passerby after hearing pounding on their front door.


The man, of Ellsworth, was on his way to work at a nearby hog barn when he saw the fire and drove to the acreage to investigate.

“He saw that there was no fire trucks,” Cortez said. “We woke up to the knocking, and my husband looked out the window and then saw the fire.”

By the time the couple got downstairs to the front door, the man was on the phone calling 9-1-1.

Hohensee said approximately 15 firefighters from the department helped to knock the fire down. Mutual aid was offered by the Rushmore Fire Department, and two of their firefighters delivered water to the site in rural Ransom Township.

Hohensee said Thursday firefighters weren’t yet sure where the fire started or what caused the blaze.

“They had power wires running between each (building),” he said.

With mild temperatures and little if any wind, Hohensee said their biggest obstacle in fighting the fire was the mud.

“It was hard for the trucks to get around,” he said. “Smoke stayed low to the ground, so that didn’t help either.”


The Bigelow Fire Department remained on the scene until about 8 a.m.

Cortez and her husband purchased the acreage less than a year ago, and had spent last summer putting tin on about half a dozen outbuildings. Three of those buildings were destroyed in the blaze.

Cazares owns a construction company and lost a lot of tools and supplies in the blaze.

“We’re so thankful that this guy came and woke us up,” Cortez said, adding that if the fire had continued to burn, it would have spread to their house.


Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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