KERKHOVEN, Minn. – Firefighters from five central Minnesota fire departments worked together for several hours Tuesday afternoon in bitter cold temperatures and blowing winds to battle a barn fire off U.S. Highway 12 where an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 hogs were killed.
The barn southeast of Kerkhoven is about 15 miles west of Willmar.
Grant Krieger, who owns the property, said shortly before the fire, power had been out on the property as electrical crews worked on an in-ground power line nearby.
Krieger said he believes the fire may have started when the power was turned back on, sparked by a space heater in the barn. Swift County Sheriff John Holtz said via email that the fire was reported around 2:20 p.m. Tuesday.
Several neighbors stood by to offer support to Krieger amid the busy scene. They watched as firefighters pumped water into the building, which appeared visibly smoky but had no external flames.
Kerkhoven, Murdock, DeGraff, Pennock and Sunburg fire departments all responded to the scene, each bringing several trucks. Willmar and Kerkhoven Ambulance were on standby, but no one was injured, Holtz said. The Swift County and Kandiyohi County sheriff’s offices also responded to the scene.
At one point, just after 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, a Kerkhoven firefighter climbed onto the bucket of a skid steer loader, which lifted him up to power water through a window near the barn roof. Another firefighter, oxygen mask secured, ran into the building.
It was all hands on deck. As the minutes passed, several fire trucks arrived at the scene with water, then left, sirens still blaring. It took several hours for firefighters to clear the scene. By the time they did, the barn was considered a total loss, Holtz said.
No official cause for the fire has been determined. It is pending an investigation by the Minnesota Fire Marshal’s Office, Holtz said.