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The barn was already completely engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived on scene. Cattle, two tractors and three skid steers were all lost in the fire. Submitted photo

Barn blaze near Perham kills 40 cattle

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Barn blaze near Perham kills 40 cattle
Perham Minnesota 222 2nd Avenue SE 56573

A barn and 40 head of cattle were destroyed in a fire just north of Perham Friday evening.

Area firefighters were called to the scene of the fire, at 49596 Highway 8, at 5:43 p.m., according to the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office.

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The property, owned by Arlin Wanderi, was in the process of being sold to Robert and Amie Ruther. Cattle lost in the fire belonged to both parties. In addition to the cattle, about 100 square bales, a hay shed, corn crib, two tractors, three skid loaders and some other equipment were also lost.

Wanderi said no people were hurt in the fire, and despite fast-moving flames that took everything "within minutes," nine head of cattle were able to be saved.

Perham Fire Chief Mark Schmidt said the barn was approximately 60x85 feet in size, and was already completely engulfed when firefighters arrived. He said a nearby farmer let firefighters take loads of water from his irrigator well, helping them put the fire out as quickly as possible. Many loads of water were needed to extinguish the flames.

Authorities said the fire was likely started in front of the barn, but the cause of the blaze is still under investigation. Wanderi said the skid loaders had just been parked in the barn, and that may have had something to do with it. 

New York Mills, Vergas and Wolf Lake fire departments also responded to the scene.

"I want to thank everyone that helped out," Wanderi said. "We were fortunate (for the quick response)... another five minutes and the fire would have taken more buildings, I'm sure."

As of Monday, Wanderi still had some clean-up left to do, though he said much had already been done. He expected that the barn would be rebuilt in the future.

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Marie Johnson
Marie Johnson (formerly Nitke) came to the Perham Focus after several years as the Education and Arts & Entertainment Editor at the Herald-Review of Grand Rapids, Minn. She lives in rural Ottertail with her husband, Dan, and their spunky yellow lab, Louisa.
(218) 346-5900 x228
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