Fire destroys barn, kills cattle in Town of Bristol

50 to 60 cattle lost in fire
Fire destroys barn, kills cattle in Town of Bristol

Authorities are investigating a fire that destroyed a 100-year-old barn early Monday morning in the Town of Bristol.

Just after midnight, deputies from the Dane County Sheriff’s Department, assisted by 10 area fire departments, responded to a fire at a calf farm at 7580 Highway VV near Sun Prairie.

Sheriff’s deputies said the barn was fully engulfed when they arrived to the farm.

“You could see in the barn, it was just black with smoke,” said Jim Miller, who lives next to the farm he co-owns with his brothers, R&G Miller & Sons, Inc. “The heat was just tremendous; tremendous heat.”

No people were injured in the blaze. However, the barn housed between 50 and 60 head of cattle plus hay and various pieces of machinery, all of which were lost in the fire.

Damage is estimated at $230,000, with the barn considered a total loss.

Miller said the fire took a hold of his barn minutes after he went to bed.

“The whole side of the house was glowing.” Miller said. “I turned to my wife and said, ‘We got to get out. The barn is on fire.'”

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“We thought there was a car accident or something,” said Vickie Miller, Jim Miller’s wife. “Jim and I both jumped up, looked out the window and noticed the whole barn was on fire.”

Ten fire departments battled the blaze overnight. And once daybreak came, the Millers battled the loss of their livelihood. They said about 10 percent of R&G Miller & Sons dairy cows were lost in a matter of hours.

“We lost 40 young calves.” said Jim Miller.

“Those are young heifers, so that’s our future milking stock,” Vickie Miller said.

For Jim Miller, the economic loss pales to the pain of helplessness.

“That was the hardest part of the whole night, was hearing the calves moan, and nothing we could do. It was real tough,” said Miller, holding back tears.

To see what’s left of the century-old building and think of the animals lost inside, the Millers are taking time to reflect before they rebuild.

“It’s very surreal,” Miller said. “It doesn’t seem like it should be.”

The Millers’ home also sustained siding and smoke damage. Given the dry conditions, high winds and close proximity of the home to the barn, officials said the Millers are lucky the fire didn’t take the home.

There is no word yet on an official cause of the fire.