Barn lost in Fulton Co. fire, but cows saved

barn fire
The cause of this Fulton County barn fire is still under investigation. Thanks to the quick outpouring of help from the ag community, none of the farm's 88 dairy cows were harmed. (Photo courtesy Wauseon Fire Chief Rick Sluder)

WAUSEON, Ohio — A herd of dairy cows is safe this week, thanks to a community-wide rescue effort, after a six-alarm fire ripped through a Fulton County barn in the early morning hours of Oct. 7.

The call came in around 4:15 a.m. The size of the blaze required the help of six fire departments, said Wauseon Fire Capt. Jason Fisher.

Less than an hour after the initial call, dozens of local farmers and neighbors joined firefighters to rescue and load out 88 dairy cows, according to an Oct. 7 tweet from Wauseon Fire Dept. Chief Rick Sluder.

“No cows lost,” Sluder’s tweet reads. “Beautiful community effort. Thanks.”

Wauseon is a rural community, so the department has experience with calls involving livestock, Fisher said. But the Oct. 7 rescue effort was something else — he said trucks and trailers were lined up “for a country mile” and people even brought food.

At one point, there were more community members than firefighters on the scene.

“It was just a big outpouring from a small community,” Fisher said.

Farmer Richard Rufenacht was still picking through the rubble with fire marshals and inspectors when reached by phone twice this week and declined to comment. He told WTOL, out of Toledo, he heard a loud bang that morning and called 911.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, according to Brian Bohnert, spokesman for the Ohio fire marshal’s office.


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Farm and Dairy Editor-in-Chief Rebecca Miller was tapped to lead the newsroom in 2019. A veteran journalist, dog wrangler and traveler, she lives on a 220-acre, 325-ewe commercial sheep farm in Lisbon, Ohio, which she runs in partnership with her mother. She can be reached at 330-817-6179 or


  1. What a great story (well, not for the barn which can be replaced) but for the cows and community.

    What great people there are “out here in the country!” Friends, neighbors, first-responders….



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