Fire destroys Nebraska farmer’s equipment |

Fire destroys Nebraska farmer’s equipment

Ruth Nicolaus
for Tri-State Livestock News
An equipment fire at a cornfield near Henderson, Neb. destroyed a combine and corn head, tractor, grain cart, and two semi trucks loaded with corn.
Photo courtesy Jonathan Rempel

Suspected arson near Sutton, Neb., has destroyed a combine, two semi trucks and trailers loaded with corn, a tractor and a grain cart.

At about 7 a.m. on the morning of Oct. 15, Jonathan Rempel, Henderson, Neb., got a phone call from the Sutton Volunteer Fire Department, telling him his harvest equipment was on fire.

According to the Nebraska State Fire Marshal’s office, the fire destroyed all of the equipment.

The equipment was in a harvested cornfield, two miles off a two-lane highway near Sutton in south central Nebraska.

The combine had two President “Trump” flags on it, but Rempel did not want to make the political connection between politics and potential arson.

“I’m a fourth generation farmer, raising the fifth (generation),” he said. “I’m a quiet man and I typically keep to myself. Never have I parked a machine and lost it. Never once have we had something like this happen. Investigators will dictate whether it was arson or not. That’s not for me to judge.”

He said since the fire happened, the outpouring of love and support has been overwhelming.

“I have been reached out to, and loved on more than anybody I know, far beyond anything I deserve. I’m not worthy and I am honored. I have people I have never met, people I’ve never heard of, helping to put my life back together. Not because I am great, because they are. I have people who are stretched to the limit, financially strapped, who are giving. Not because I am great, because they are.”

The equipment was not close to each other; Rempel estimated the combine was 75 to 85 feet from the nearest truck; the trucks were 45 feet apart; and the tractor was approximately 210 feet from anything else.

He did not comment on the financial loss, but said, “Money isn’t relevant. Things don’t matter. People do. Everybody’s concerned about money. I will be OK.”

He said groups are organizing to finish his corn and soybean harvest on Oct. 23 and 24. “Some are friends, some are strangers, and they’re all family.”

Rempel also flew a Trump flag on his combine last year, and asked people to allow justice to take place.

“Don’t rush the police,” he said. “We can’t afford for them to be wrong. We’re not looking for a public lynching or a Facebook execution. I don’t want that. Don’t rush to judgement. We don’t want to cheapen what happened.”

His wife, Abbie, is pregnant and due in about three weeks, and he’s not done with harvest yet. The family is relying on their faith in God. “My wife is due in 21 days and I have half a crop to bring in. And God said, it wasn’t up to me to do it. (God) will bring people into my life that I don’t know, to solve a problem that I can’t solve.”

He also emphasized people should be kind to one another.

“The other thing I would say is, life’s hard, and it’s hard for everyone in different ways. Be kind to one another, love one another, sacrifice till it hurts, and give to others.

“Life’s a hard game, a game of chess, and I had most of my pieces wiped off the chess board. God provided people to refill it.”

A GoFundme page has been set up, with more than $53,000 raised. Information on the page stated that donated funds would go towards the insurance deductible and expenses not covered by insurance. Donations are also being accepted at Heartland Bank, c/o the Rempel Equipment Benefit Fund, PO Box 69, Aurora, NE 68818.

The Clay Center, Neb., Volunteer Fire Department also assisted in putting out the fire.

In a news release, the Nebraska State Fire Marshal said the investigation is ongoing and a loss estimate has not been determined. ❖