More than 70 cows die in overnight barn fire - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

More than 70 cows die in overnight barn fire

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MARATHON COUNTY (WAOW) -- A barn more than a century old was destroyed by an overnight fire. Dozens of milk cows were inside the building at the time and died in the blaze.

Authorities said the fire broke out around 10PM on Sunday night. The barn was located in the township of Rietbrock -- north of Edgar in Marathon County.

Kenneth Reuter has spent the past seven decades milking cows on the farm.

"I've been living here a long time. I owned it now for must be thirty years," said Reuter. "Dad owned it, Grandpa owned it. That's been from the beginning -- everybody milked cows."

Now, all that's left is ashes after a fire broke out Sunday night. Reuter wasn't home at the time. By the time he got there, he said all he could do was watch as his beloved barn burned to the ground. More than 70 of his cows were trapped inside.

"Well, the whole thing was burnt down," said Reuter. "The fire and the flames were there but there was no more structure left. Cows were all in there yet. There was nothing I could do no more. Too late for anything."

Firefighters from around the area spent four hours putting out the blaze. Investigators said they're still not sure how it started.

"Based on where they saw the fire when they arrived, where the smoke was, the color of the smoke, the type of flames, color of flames, all those can be indicators to the fire department trained eye to determine if there was something suspicious with that fire," said Marathon County Sheriff's Department Lt. Dale Wisnewski.

Reuter said about a dozen heifers were outside the barn at the time. They're all okay. He's grateful for that but the memory of Sunday night stays with him.

"I thought of a lot of things," said Reuter. "I was going to move the tractor but that was already burnt. Pretty much just sit here and watched the firemen. Besides that, I couldn't do nothing. It's not a good feeling but it happened."

Authorities said no injuries were reported in the fire and there was no damage to the home or silo on the property. Reuter said he'll still grow crops on the land but doesn't plan to rebuild his barn.

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