Seven fire departments respond as 450 bales burn at local dairy farm

Firefighters were battling a hay bale fire after 2 a.m. Oct. 28, 2017 at the Holter Holstein Farm. Photo by Brent Rose.

FIVE POINTS, Ohio – An early morning fire had 7 departments responding to a local dairy farm.

Multiple departments were toned out just after 2 a.m. on Oct. 28, 2017 to the Holter’s Holstein Farms. The fully involved fire consumed 450 bales of winter hay for the milk cows of the dairy farm. Also lost in the fire were two trucks including one storing grain for the cattle as well. A combine was at least partially scorched. The extent of the damage could not be assessed until the fire is out. Firefighters said the fire could burn for days.

Fire departments responding included Chester, Pomeroy, Middleport, Rutland, Tuppers Plains, Bashan and Reedsville. Several of the departments were specifically assisting with pumper trucks as a lot of water was needed early on to keep the fire from spreading. Meigs EMS also responded to the scene.

Equipment was used to move a charred truck from the what remained of the barn. Photo by Brent Rose.

Chester Fire Chief David Edwards said they would be on the scene until the fire was out, which he added could take a couple of days. The hay had been under roof. That structure was completely gone. Chester Assistant Chief Roy Bailey said firefighters pulled strips of metal roofing off of the burning bales. He said they could not pull the bales out to extinguish them because it would have created further damage to the property to do so.

“It’s almost a lost cause trying to put it out,” Assistant Chief Bailey said. He said there was nothing toxic in the hay bales and they would remain on the scene until the fire was extinguished. It may take days for the fire to burn out, but rain could help the firefighters. Firefighters were maintaining a perimeter around the bales to keep the fire from spreading as well.

Bailey noted the cooperation of area firefighters working together to handle calls such as this one, pointing out that in the middle of the night the volunteer firefighters in the county were there to answer the call. “That’s the breed of volunteer firefighters. That’s just how they are,” Assistant Chief Bailey said.

Pomeroy Chief Rick Blaettnar was one of the first firefighters on the scene. He said when he arrived the roof had caved in and a truck was on fire. Chief Blaettnar said it was spreading to a combine but the crew knocked the fire down and stopped it from spreading further. He said they had been working closer on the fire but for the safety of firefighters had to pull back as bales began collapsing off the side.

Both Chief Edwards and Chief Blaettnar said they did not see anything suspicious to the fire. The hay shelter did not have electric to it.

Owner Ed Holter told the Meigs Independent Press the loss was the farm’s winter milk supply of 450 bales of hay. The bales were for feeding the dairy cows specifically. During the winter a farm like the Holter’s can go through 12 bales of hay a day feeding the cows. Some of the hay was saved outside, but it is a terrible loss for the farm with the majority of the hay burning up. Holter said two trucks stored in the shelter were also a loss. One had feed in it with the feed being charred as well. The total loss for the farm was not available, but initial estimates with the loss of the barn and the trucks alone was at least $60,000. The hay will only add to the loss. Months of work including second and third cuttings of hay are burning as of publication.

With firefighters remaining on the scene for sometime, McDonald’s of Pomeroy donated freshly brewed coffee, sandwiches, and tea for the firefighters as they continued to monitor the situation.

A hay bale that has fallen off the main stacks burns. Due to bales falling such as the one shown, firefighters had to move back from the edges of the blaze. Photo by Brent Rose.
Chester Fire Chief David Edwards checks the safety tags and the manpower that responded to the fire. Photo by Carrie Gloeckner.