Herald JournalHerald Journal, Sept. 20, 2004

Fire consumes Heuer barn near LP

Pickup trucks lined the driveway of Rick and Sarah Heuer’s farm, southwest of Lester Prairie, Tuesday morning.

The night before, fire ravaged through the upper loft of Heuer’s 34-by 200-foot dairy barn. It took seven fire departments the entire night to put out the blaze.

The fire, seemingly knowing about the Heuer’s 80 cows in the bottom of the barn, did not touch the family’s milking equipment or milking parlor. In fact, Rick Heuer milked his cows Tuesday morning.

When the Lester Prairie Fire Department arrived at the Heuer farm, shortly after 8 p.m., the first 60 feet of the barn was engulfed, said Lester Prairie Fire Chief Jim Hoof. When Hoof saw that, he attempted to contain the fire to that first 60 feet, but realized shortly after that, that wasn’t going to happen.

In the end, the fire claimed about 100 feet of roof, Hoof said. The weather and wind was actually a benefit to the firefighters at first, Hoof said.

“The wind was coming from the south at first, which helped blow smoke out of their faces,” Hoof said. “Then it started to rain and the wind switched to the southeast and started working against us.”

Early into the fire, Hoof knew that this one was going to take a lot of water. He called for Glencoe and Plato fire departments to bring more water and manpower, in addition to water from Winsted, New Germany, Silver Lake, and Hutchinson.

“Our mutual aid system worked really well,” Hoof said. The seven departments used more than 150,000 gallons of water. The Heuers, without probably even knowing it, had some more mutual aid of their own as people began lining their driveway, even before the fire was out, to offer their assistance.

“They’ve got some great friends and neighbors,” Hoof said. “They pitched in with Bobcats to remove the smoldering hay.”

The Heuer’s 14-year-old son Peter was in the barn putting bails into the hay bin when sparks came off a skid loader and got into some hay, Hoof said regarding the cause of the fire.

Peter Heuer attempted to put out the fire himself, and in doing so, received second to third degree burns on his arm, and a small burn on his face.

He was transported to Glencoe Regional Health Services and later to Hennepin County Medical Center’s burn unit. As of Friday, according to reports, Peter Heuer was still in the hospital receiving treatment for his burns.

The Heuers are planning on rebuilding their barn and continuing their farming operations.


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