Just before noon on Saturday, Feb. 6, a fire broke out inside a cattle barn on the 19000 block of 371st Avenue in Green Isle.
Seven fire departments with about 60 crew members spent nearly five hours putting out the large blaze and extinguishing the hay and straw in the negative temperatures.
“People were getting their gear iced up right away and it was stiff,” said Dan Kroells, First Assistant Chief with the Green Isle Fire Department. “Arlington Ambulance was on standby because of the cold and concern over frostbite and slips or falls.”
He said no firefighters sustained any injuries that day, and all of the cattle survived, though the barn was declared a total loss.
“It was kind of a difficult fire for us because everybody knows the family. It kind of hits home for everybody in a fire like that,” Kroells said.
The farm officially belongs to Vivian Meyer, and all of her seven children are in a family trust, with her son Curtis Meyer running the day to day operations.
Curtis Meyer served on the Green Isle Fire Department for 20 years, as did his brother John, who was a former chief of the department. Now, Curtis’s son Kort is on the department, too.
Their combined knowledge helped get all of the 30 calves and 16 cows out of the barn and into a safe location quickly.
“The 16 cows are due to calve in two months. Getting them all out means the future of the farm is safe,” said Curtis Meyer.
He said the support he received that day was overwhelming, as 50 to 100 family members and friends showed up to offer a helping hand.
“Every one of the family members were there after the fire started. A lot of crying was going on,” he said.
In addition, the response from the community was a silver lining on that cold day.
The Club New Yorker, Arlington Haus, Coborn’s, and other businesses donated food and drinks to the crews, and the wives of the fire department volunteers made sandwiches for those out working.
"What was really touching to me is they called Hillcrest Cafe and they ordered a roaster full of hot dish. My niece went to pick it up; her husband is a member of the Hamburg Fire Department. She said to them, 'What do we owe you?' They said, 'Nothing. The firemen are cold and they need to stay warm.'"
Meyer said the abundance of support was thoughtful and heartwarming.
He said the family plans to rebuild a facility of some kind for young stock.
In the meantime, his cousin Dean Stoeckman has taken in his cattle.
Though the loss of the historic 1900s barn is deeply painful for the family, Meyer is grateful that the fire crews and animals are safe, and that he has the ability to rebuild for the future.
Assisting agencies were Arlington Fire Department, Green Isle Fire Department, Hamburg Fire Department, Gaylord Fire Department, Henderson Fire Department, Plato Fire Department, Norwood Young America Fire Department, Sibley County Sheriff's Office, State Patrol, and the Arlington Ambulance.