Overnight barn fire northeast of Greeley kills several animals
November 22, 2016
The spot where Neil Temmer stood just after sunset Monday would once have been in the shadow of a massive 19th century barn. Now, the barn is gone and the dirt driveway of his 621 O. St. property is awash with muddy water. Vehicles used by the Eaton Fire Protection District sprayed that water early Monday morning.
He'd been up since 3 a.m. That's when a few workers from a nearby oil and gas operation knocked on his door and told him the barn was burning. He'd been cleaning up back there since about 6 a.m., shortly after fire crews left.
Temmer said he lost numerous animals in the blaze — he estimates 25 goats, two pigs and one steer — as well as the barn, which is completely gone.
"It stretched from those trees all the way down over to that gatepost," he said, pointing to a line of gnarled trees behind the house, just off of O Street, and east of U.S. 85. "It was a great big dairy barn." Temmer said the property, which he has rented for five years, was the original Bliss homestead, and that the original family owned land that stretched north, almost up to Eaton. It wasn't the first fire to damage the property either — Temmer said last summer a small grainery burned down, although it didn't do nearly as much damage as Monday's burn.
Temmer said he didn't know what caused the fire, citing the fact that it is still under investigation.
"I've been mostly just dealing with water damage today," he said, splashing through a puddle of mud in the gathering twilight. "They brought out a truck that can shoot thousands of gallons of water."
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According to Eaton Fire Protection District Chief Hugh Kane, firefighters found the barn fully stocked with hay, which provided a ready source of fuel for the fire.
By nightfall Monday, the sharp smell of burnt wood still hung in the air. The barn was built around 1886.
Temmer said he'd never had to deal with a catastrophe like this on the property before.
"It's a sad situation," he said. "You just take it one day at a time."
Firefighters from Gill and Greeley also responded.