A milking parlor and about 15 cattle were lost in a structure fire on the Herman and Peggy Maier farm west of Stitzer early Monday morning, Dec. 12, according to Grant County Emergency Management Director Steve Braun.
At 4:11 a.m., the Grant County 911 communication center received a call of a structure fire at the Maier farm at 4353 County Highway E. The Stitzer, Fennimore and Lancaster fire departments and Fennimore EMS responded.
Upon arrival, a milking parlor was fully engulfed in fire. It was attached to a larger free-stall barn containing an estimated 400 head of cattle. The first arriving fire units quickly contained the fire to the milking parlor and protected the uninvolved buildings. The free-stall barn was salvaged. Firefighters and bystanders worked together to evacuate cattle to safety. About 25,000 gallons of water were used to extinguish the fire, and about 15 cattle were lost.
According to Stitzer Fire Chief Kenny Richter, who married into the Maier family and works on the farm as well, Herman Maier sustained a minor burn. Braun said the injury occurred while Maier was evacuating cattle and that he declined medical treatment.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Braun said preliminary reports suggest the fire started in an electrical/utility room in the parlor.
Responders were on the scene for a total of six and a half hours.
The Grant County Sheriff’s Office and Alliant Energy Assisted at the scene, along with B.J.’s Bulldozing and Reynolds Electric of Stitzer, and Fullers Milker Center of Lancaster.
As of Monday afternoon, Richter said the Maiers’ milk cows were being housed at three different farms in the area. He said that the concrete from the structure was being torn down Monday and that the hope is for a new building to be standing on the property next month.
Richter also noted that volunteers have already come forward to help the family. He said there may be a need for hauling feed from one farm to another, but otherwise, they’re “doing pretty well.”