The barn owned by Donald and Phyllis Strauss was still smoking Sunday morning after snowy conditions made for a difficult night fighting a barn fire Friday, Jan. 24, just north of Lake Mills.
The barn, which housed Straussdale Holstein LLC.’s heifers, N7744 State Road 89, caught fire during the storm that caused slippery conditions all over the area.
Neighbors and family nearby helped clear the barn of animals after the fire started, taking them down the road to one of the operation’s nearby farms.
The Lake Mills Fire Department was dispatched to the scene at 7:11 p.m., according to Lake Mills Fire Chief Todd Yandre. When firefighters arrived on scene at 7:24 p.m. the barn was fully engulfed in flames.
“Our main objective was to protect the nearby exposures,” Yandre said. “Crews remained on scene until 10:16 p.m.”
The fire department returned (non-emergency) to the scene to extinguish some additional hay bales that rekindled at 2:10 a.m. Saturday morning.
Family members said in various social media posts the barn is a total loss but was not operation’s main barn. The barn that was destroyed is estimated to have been built in the 1800s, family members said.
The Strauss family is one of Lake Mills longest dairy farming families. The farm has been just north of Lake Mills off State Road 89 since 1881. Farming has always been a family affair, passed down to the next generation.
Sunday morning family members could be seen tending to the barn, which still appeared to have some hot spots. As of Tuesday morning, the majority of the structure has been removed by a clean-up crew of family members.
The family has not decided at this point if the barn will be rebuilt.
Responding were engines from Waterloo and Johnson Creek; tenders from Marshall, Waterloo, Jefferson, Cambridge and Johnson Creek; a squad from Jefferson, fire chiefs from Jefferson and Waterloo; an engine from Fort Atkinson; an ambulance from Waterloo.