'No losses other than the barn:' Nearly 20 departments battle blaze on hot day in Manitowoc County

MANITOWOC COUNTY -- They didn't just need extra water for firefighting Monday, July 15 in Manitowoc County. They also needed it for first responders. More than 20 departments were called out to the Town of Meeme on the Manitowoc County/Sheboygan County line to battle a massive barn fire.


The barn was clearly a total loss.

FOX6 News learned it was a piece of family history for the owners.

Cloud of thick smoke cut through the heat on one of the hottest days of the year. Tackling the flames required backup, and lots of it!

"I was over at Elkhart Lake and saw a lot of smoke, and saw some fire trucks going out," said Mitch Hassinger of Kiel.

Ryan Duening, Howards Grove assistant fire chief, said the call came in around 1 p.m. The heat added to the challenges for firefighters.

"It's very hot. We're trying to switch out crews every 10 to 15 minutes today. Hydration is the biggest thing," said Duening.

By late afternoon, roughly 18 volunteer fire departments had answered the call for help. Additional water, Gatorade, and food was brought in to refuel firefighters, as crews continued to battle hot spots, especially where hay was stored.

The scene was finally cleared a little after 7 p.m.

"No losses other than the barn at this time," said Hassinger. "Hopefully it's not too bad. A barn burning down is a pretty serious thing, but hopefully they don't lose too much."

The farm is owned by the Siemers family. One of the owners, Dan Siemers, told FOX6 he learned the potential cause was the movement of equipment when hay was being moved.

"It was a really hot day, I would like to thank all the volunteer firefighters and all the departments that assisted. I would also like to thank all of my friends and family that have called and offered well wishes," Siemers said in a statement.

He said generations of farmers milked inside the barn. He said they planned to rebuild, but noted it was tough to see a piece of family history go like this.

The official cause was under investigation.

"On a hot day, anything is possible," said Hassinger.