Fire destroys Town of Dane machine shed

Family needs hay to feed cattle
Fire destroys Town of Dane machine shed

An overnight fire in a machine shed wiped out just about everything for a Dane County family farm on Wednesday.

Multiple crews worked to contain the blaze. Dane County sheriff’s deputies, along with fire crews from Dane, Waunakee, Arlington, Sauk City and Lodi, responded at about 1:30 a.m. to the Jesse Family Farms at 6945 Sam Road, near Lodi, in the Town of Dane.

When the crews arrived, they said they found the 100 feet by 50 feet shed fully engulfed in flames. The structures was filled with farm machinery and hay.

Town of Dane Fire Chief Doug Statz said the dairy farm lost five tractors and 150 bales of hay in the blaze. Everything inside the farm’s metal shed was a total loss.

The family was sleeping when the fire started, and members said that they’re in relatively good spirits despite the damage done. No one was injured in the fire.

Matt Jesse said that they did lose a lot in the blaze.

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“We had wagons for hauling grain,” said Matt Jesse, “A lot of hay stored inside so that would have been used for feed for the cattle.”

“(We lost) two tractors, a loader, Bobcat, all of our farm implements.” said Jesse’s wife, Tracy Jesse. “(There was) about a 150 large square bales of hay.”

But the family said that the challenge now is to find opportunity in dire conditions.

“Ugh, boy, that cleanup.” said Matt Jesse.

Among the items lost, the hay could be used to feed the farm’s Red Angus cattle for the year and was gone in just a few hours.

“All I could see was orange.” said Tracy Jesse, “Everything was on fire.”

Aside from equipment lost, the shed held more than 30 years of family memories.

“I just remember hours and hours of stripping tobacco,” said Rachel Stieve, Matt Jesse’s sister, “We watched the 1980 Olympics from this room right here while we were stripping tobacco.”

The family members said they’ll also remember the outpouring of support shortly after the blaze.

“You’re limited at what you can get done at this point,” said Matt Jesse, “But I’ve already had some calls from neighbors offering to help us out, anything we needed.That’s one thing about living out here. You got neighbors that will take care of you when something like this happens.”

Inspiration for a family now forced to make hay while the sun shines among clouds.

“I think when it all cools off, quits smoldering, you start on one end and you start moving stuff out.” said Matt Jesse.

Hay is the Jesse family’s biggest need right now to keep their cattle fed. They’re working with their insurance company to see what will be covered.

Investigators are still looking for the cause of the fire. Statz said that it doesn’t appear to be suspicious.

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