FALL CREEK — A fire Sunday night destroyed a barn in the Eau Claire County town of Lincoln.
The fire, at S6951 Morning Crest Drive just west of Fall Creek, was reported around 9:30 p.m. by property owner Jim Sadler.
“Around 9:30 or so I looked out and saw an orange glow out there,” said Sadler, who immediately called 911 to report the blaze.
The six beef cattle in the barn were on the opposite end of the barn from the fire when it started, so Sadler said he was able to open a frozen lock in time to let the animals out before they could be harmed.
A neighboring family agreed to keep the cattle in their barn until the Sadlers decide how to proceed.
The former 58-cow dairy barn was being used for just the six cattle and storage, said Sadler, who operates Sadler Tire Service on the property.
“I was a bit taken aback by the intensity of the heat when I stepped out the door last night,” he said, adding that the family was fortunate the wind wasn’t blowing toward the house or tire business. “It was kind of traumatic to see everyone around, but it’s really not that big of a deal for us.”
The Eau Claire County sheriff’s office tweeted a photo Sunday night showing flames nearly half the height of a pair of adjacent silos and the flaming beams of the barn structure before it collapsed into a pile of rubble.
The charred remnants of the red barn were still smoldering late Monday morning despite about a half a foot of fresh snow covering the landscape.
Firefighters were on site until about 1 a.m., said Jamie Kaeding, fire chief for the Fall Creek Area Fire District.
While no official cause has been determined, Kaeding said it most likely was an electrical fire, possibly from a heating unit used to thaw water for the cattle.
The harsh weather conditions — with the temperature hovering about zero degrees — made fighting the fire a challenge, as firefighters had to use propane torches to heat valves to fill up tanker trucks with water and personnel had to be cycled in and out because of the severe cold, Kaeding said.
“Everything freezes up at that temperature,” he said.
The Augusta-Bridge Creek, Fairchild and Township fire departments assisted in fighting the fire.