Cataract area barn destroyed in blaze
Fire destroyed a barn on a Cataract area farm Monday, which luckily contained no livestock.
Firefighters from the Sparta Area Fire District responded to the blaze at the Lee and Ginnie Fallendorf farm at 4619 Cty. Hwy. S shortly after 11 p.m. According to Fire Chief Mike Arnold, Ginnie Fallendorf was awakened by the orange glow from the flames. When she went outside, the entire barn was engulfed in fire and she called 911.
Arnold said flames had already consumed most of the barn by the time his crew arrived. A calf shed on the back of the barn also was destroyed in the fire.
The barn was being used to store 100 bales of straw, tools and elevators, all of which were destroyed.
While the cause of the fire is still being investigated, Arnold suspects it was likely due to an electrical malfunction. He said in old barns, mice chew through the plastic coating on wires causing them to short out.
The Black River Falls Fire Department assited with two water tenders, while the Ft. McCoy Fire Department provided another. Those along with Sparta’s three tenders, required two fill station, one through the high-capacity well at the Fire Station 3 in Cataract and another at the Mill Pond in Cataract.
Two dozen firefighters responded to the blaze, pumping 50,000 gallons of water on the flames. Arnold said some of the firefighters were already at Station 3 putting away equipment from a training session earlier that evening so the response time was quick.
Still, the barn, which was insured, is a compete loss. Firefighters were on the scene for six hours.
The farm was the site of the 2011 Monreo County Dairy Breakfast.
Also assisting were the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, Cataract First Responders, Sparta Area Ambulance Service, Anderson Excavating and the Monroe County 911 Communication Center.