Blazing Fire Reduced Locker to Rubble in Farmersburg Iowa

Farmersburg Locker blazed on Tuesday bringing in firefighters from Farmersburg, Monona, St Olaf and an air trailer from Elkader, Iowa.

No one was injured in the fire that began Tuesday morning. Fire fighters received the call around 9:35 a.m. and were there until 4 p.m., fighting the blaze which completely destroyed the building.

The fire started up again four times after that, the first was 1:30 a.m. Wednesday. It was sometime Wednesday afternoon when the building was reduced to rubble that the fire finally died.

Fire chief, James Rohde, of Farmersburg, said they responded to the call at about 9:35 a.m., with their pumper and tanker, and called out to Monona and St Olaf for assistance.

“We had to get excavators in because a lot of the fire was in the basement – we continued to fight the fire until about 4 p.m.,” Rohde said. “It was in the floor joists and we really don’t know how it started,” he said.

Rohde explained that the Fire Marshall’s take on it was that it is difficult to find the point of origin because of the devastation of the building.

The building looks intact when approached from West Church St., but when approached from Ross St., it reveals that only the front of the building remains standing, the rest is gone.

Rohde also pointed that they were concerned with keeping the fire under control because of the neighboring houses.

As it stands now, the rubble, piled several feet high, is but a few feet away from those homes.

“There were several firemen from Monona who had to go down to access the basement. They donned the air pack with breathing masks, they had to make sure that there was nobody down there,” Rohde explained.

They had keep dowsing the fire and ended up tearing the building apart to get to it as it was in the basement.

“It was in the ground, we really don’t know what started it. Unless the Fire Marshall has discovered something more,” Rohde pointed out.

The air trailer that came from Elkader carries a compressor that refills the air packs of those brave men who went down into the basement.

Gary Genthe was not available for comment. According to Rohde the building was insured.

The Aftermath from Locker Fire in Farmersburg

Owner of destroyed locker fights his way through rubble after fire fighting is over.

Gary Genthe, owner of Farmersburg locker, will have to remove the rubble left behind from the fire that engulfed his business last Tuesday at about 9:35 a.m.

Fire chief, James Rohde, of Farmersburg called in more help from Monona, St Olaf and Elkader fire units.

Genthe’s fiancé, who is also the secretary and bookkeeper, Tammy Schmit, of Farmersburg, said that the fire was still smoldering on Thursday.

“I arrived at the locker on Wednesday at noon and it was smoldering then – at three when I left there was an open fire and it was still smoldering on Thursday,” Schmit said. “The building had been reduced to rubble on Tuesday when firemen were trying to get the water into the ceiling and floor joists,” she explained.

Schmit also pointed out that there was too much damage for the fire Marshal to determine what had caused the fire.

“On Monday we were skinning and processing deer upstairs,” she said. “There is nothing that we can do now, all that meat was contaminated,” she said, explaining why they had not been able to continue processing at another establishment after the fire.

Fortunately they are covered by insurance but it is uncertain when they will see any compensation.

It was not so much business as usual but it was Christmas as usual said Schmit.

“It was the heart of our season and we were doing well. My family is in Waterloo and Gary’s family is in Dubuque, we both have kids and grandchildren, so you just get on with life, optimistically, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.” she explained.

Their biggest job now is to remove the rubble, deal with the DNR, EPA and environmentalists, because the meat is buried under the rubble.

“We are mainly concerned now with rubble removal,” she said. “It is unbelievable. One of our packers arrived at the front of the building and visited with another worker that lives next door to the locker, she told him that it didn’t look as though anything was disturbed, he took her out the back door of his house where she could see that there was nothing left of her work place but a pile of rubble and a front wall,” Schmit said.

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