Aerial photo courtesy of Al Knowlton

The 700-foot long turkey barn, located about 5 miles northeast of New Auburn, is viewed from the air the following day, Saturday, May 16. The fire started on the west end.

Three fire departments responded in full force—with backup from four others—to a turkey barn on fire in northern Chippewa County on Friday evening, May 15.

The fire was reported around 6:45 p.m. by a neighbor, said New Auburn Fire Chief Thomas Bischel. New Auburn, Bloomer and Chetek fire departments responded with full manpower. Tenders to haul water were provided by Sand Creek, Eagle Point, Tilden and Cornell fire departments. Bloomer’s aerial fire truck was on scene, spraying water from above.

The turkey farm, owned by Jennie-O, is about five miles northeast of New Auburn on CTH F at the intersection of 280th Avenue and 90th Street. The northernmost barn was on fire.

The entire west end was completely involved in the fire when firefighters first arrived on scene, Bischel said on Monday, May 18. The fire spread and damaged much of the rest of the 700-foot-long building.

The size of the building created a challenge for firefighters, but having a good response from the departments that were called helped with controling and subduing the fire, Bischel said. Firefighters were there for seven hours, he added.

Bischel said there were no injuries and damage was limited to just that structure. The cause was undetermined as of Monday.

Hormel Inc., the parent company of Jennie-O, was asked if there were turkeys inside the barn and if a cause of the fire was known.

“We can confirm there was a fire in a barn that housed Jennie-O turkeys. While there weren’t any people hurt, unfortunately some animals in the barn perished,” Hormel said in a statement on late Monday, May 18. “Our Jennie-O team is saddened by the loss of the birds, which is especially difficult for those who cared for the animals daily. We are currently working closely with fire officials to investigate the cause.”

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