Fire kills 26 calves, destroys barn
BIGELOW, Minn. — A barn was destroyed and 26 3-week-old bottle calves were killed in a fire Tuesday night, about a mile south of the Lake Bella dam near the Minnesota-Iowa line.
The blaze was reported at 8:45 p.m. by a neighbor to the farm in Horton Township, Iowa. Bigelow Fire Chief Paul Hohensee said Wednesday that the biggest challenge was getting a water source to fight the blaze.
“Where the farm place was located, it’s a lot of dead miles,” he said. “We had to travel practically three miles just to get to a main gravel road.”
Water was pumped from Bigelow and a portable pump set up at the Lake Bella dam to draw water.
Rodney Markus, who lives on the site and feeds calves for a Minnesota dairy, was not home at the time. He had about 300 calves on the site, but the only ones lost were those housed in the barn.
Hohensee said he suspected the fire was caused by an electrical issue, based on where the blaze started.
“It was an older barn, remodeled years ago,” he said.