ADRIAN – Two hundred cattle had to be put down Tuesday afternoon after a fire at 3b Farms in Adrian.
Adrian Assistant Fire Chief Eric Marten said they were called to the scene shortly after 2 p.m.to find two tractors engulfed in flames. The barn next to the tractors caught on fire, Marten said, causing enough damage for the roof to buckle.
According to Jeff Bullerman of 3b Farms, they had two tractors in the pit of the barn when one started on fire, causing the other to also burn.
"There were two tractors about 20 feet apart, and there was so much heat,” Bullerman said.
Just when Bullerman though the barn would be damaged but salvageable and the cattle were safe, a small explosion caused a fire ball to shoot out of one of the tractors and take the roof down.
“I never dreamed I’d see something like that,” Bullerman said.
The barn is split into two pens, Bullerman said, and they were able to open the gate on one side, allowing cattle to run out.
“Where the pumps were, we couldn’t get to the gate, so we had to run around,” he said. “The cattle were pressed up so hard against the gate that we couldn’t get it open.”
Right about then, one of the tractors “kind of exploded and took the roof down,” Bullerman said, and they had to get out because of the danger.
Somehow the second gate did get opened and all but about six of the cattle were freed. A vet on the scene started checking out the cattle and the percentage of burn damage.
“We started marking them and put 200 down,” Bullerman said. “I was glad by the time it was done, because they were swelling up and in pain.”
The Bullermans have been dealt some nasty blows in recent years. A commodity shed was taken out by wind several years ago. About two years before that, they lost a barn to snow when the weight caused the structure to collapse. And three years before that, another barn had suffered the same fate due to snow.
“We just put them back up and try to build them stronger,” Bullerman stated.
The cattle that had to be euthanized were about two weeks away from being brought to market. The barn, Bullerman said is a total loss from the ground up, but the pits and cement from the ground down are salvageable.
Marten said departments from Lismore, Wilmont and Rushmore were called in for mutual aid, and assisted with manpower and water.
Marten said at one point in their firefighting efforts, cattle were running around.
“I just want to send a thanks to the community members who came out and wrangled cattle,” Marten said. “There were a lot of people out there helping out.”