MAPLE VALLEY TOWNSHIP– Six fire departments responded to a fully involved fire at a barn that housed dairy cattle late Friday morning.
The Maple Valley Township Fire Department was called to 477 Marble Road at 11:25 a.m. with a report that the roof of the barn was on fire.
At the time of the fire, there were 35 to 40 cows in the barn, according to owner Dale Rowland.
“They all made it out,” Rowland said.
As Maple Valley firefighters arrived at the scene, they called in assistance from Lakeview, Sand Lake, Spencer Township, Montcalm Township and Oakfield Township fire departments.
Rowland said with the help of friends and family, he was able to get the cattle into a separate barn where heifers and calves were held.
Rowland’s nephew Nick called 911 to report the fire. Rowland said he was only gone about five minutes in the field when he saw the fire.
“I don’t know what started (the fire),” Rowland said.
Rowland has lived at the residence all his life, running the dairy farm with just a little help.
“Dale does all the milking himself,” said Jeff Dillon Sr., a friend of Rowland. “He did not let anyone else do it.”
Dillon was one of about 20 people who came to help Rowland after they heard the news about his barn.
“When neighbors need help, they all pull together when someone needs it,” Dillon said. “Most of the people here are also farmers.”
Dillon said he was having lunch with a friend who serves on the Spencer Township Fire Department when he found out about the fire. He thought Rowland would need help getting the animals out of the barn so he rushed to the scene as well.
“Most of them were out when we got here,” said Dillon, adding one cow needed to be freed from the barn with axes after getting caught in the barn loft.
Dillon has known Rowland for about 15 years and his son previously worked on the farm and still does occasionally when he is home from school.
“Dale is an every day hard worker,” Dillon said. “He does most of this himself.”
Rowland’s brother, Bruce Rowland, said their father, Lloyd Rowland, bought the property in 1952.
“The barn was standing then,” Bruce Rowland said.
After buying the property, the Rowland family extended the back portion of the barn and later added the stalls for the cattle. Bruce Rowland said Dale Rowland has been handling the dairy cattle for about 20 years.
“It’s terrible,” he said as he watched smoke and flames coming from his brother’s barn. “Neighbors are going to be taking some of the cows until he can figure out what to do.”
Dale Rowland said he does have insurance on the barn, however most of the barn was filled with hay and he is not sure if that will be covered.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.