Wayne County man loses beef cattle in barn fire

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Wayne County barn fire. (Photo courtesy of Jonas Troyer, Orrville, Ohio)
Wayne County barn fire. (Photo courtesy of Jonas Troyer, Orrville, Ohio)

SMITHVILLE, Ohio — A Wayne County man lost four beef cattle in a fire that destroyed his bank barn Feb. 1.

Jerry Feikert, of 3925 Egypt Road, said everything seemed normal around his place the night before, and the morning of the fire. He recalled driving out of his driveway at 5:22 a.m., on his way to work, and said a family member called him a short time later, with the news.

“It was just like any other morning,” he said.

Eight head of beef cattle of various ages were kept under the 64-by-40-foot bank barn, and four of the eight escaped.

The fire also damaged a nearby milk house, and there was heat damage to a machinery shed. Some 17 round bales of hay were also lost, along with several square bales of straw.

Mark Burns, fire chief with Central Fire District, said the cause is still under investigation. He said five fire departments responded, fighting the blaze starting around 6 a.m. Feb. 1.

Feikert said Feb. 4 that he was still trying to process everything, and figure out what may have happened. The 59-year-old man grew up at the farm, and said he always tried to be careful about fire hazards, and that he avoided keeping tractors and skid loaders inside the barn, as a precaution.

Feikert said his neighbors have been supportive, and one is helping to house the surviving animals. He said he did have insurance on the barn, and is awaiting word from his provider to hear what will be covered.

Feikert rents his land to a neighboring farmer, and works days at Riverview Industrial Wood Products, in Smithville.

He said the beef cattle are a hobby for him, and one that he enjoys. The neighbors have offered to hold a cleanup day, but he said he needs more time to plan and prepare.

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