Fire damages Spencer Livestock building
By KAREN SCHWALLER
SPENCER-Heavy damage was reported to the Spencer Livestock Sales complex on Hwy. 71 just north of Spencer following an early morning fire which broke out Friday, Dec. 13.
The office and show/sales arena areas were both lost in the blaze.
Spencer Fire Chief John Conyn said the department received a call at 2:15 a.m. and upon arrival, found overhead flames.
“Fostoria (Fire Department) was paged based on not having any (fire) hydrants and we started creating a water shuttle operation. And noticing that the fire was destroying the entire structure we went ahead and paged out Everly as well for tanker support,” said Conyn.
Conyn said Clay County Grounds and Streets division was also contacted to bring a track hoe to the scene in order to help gain access to the structure.
He said the fire was under control by 6:15 a.m., and the last of the firefighting crews were released as late as 9 a.m.
“Crews were able to (work together) to save all of the livestock barn area,” he said, adding that no livestock were lost in the fire.
Conyn said the cause of the blaze is undetermined, and the state fire marshall has been called in to investigate.
Owner Luke Mulhbauer said the fire appeared to advance quickly.
“It’s a horrific deal. Looks like once it got into the walls and the attic it’s an all-wood structure so it became inflamed in no time,” he said.
Conyn said the key to saving the livestock barn area and managing the fire in the office and show arena area was working with other local fire departments.
“It pays to train with (other local fire departments) so when we are doing an operation like this, there is a lot of synergy,” he said. “It really made a difference.”
Muhlbauer said with the office gone, so is much of the paper work for the sale barn. But he and his wife, Katie, are considering the rebuilding of that part of the sale barn so they can remain in operation.
“We have some specials coming up right around the corner, and we are (hoping to find alternate places) to have our pre-conditioned sales, at least through the winter months,” he said, adding that his family has a sale barn in Denison, which he thought they could also utilize just to get by. “Logistics could be a factor with that, but it’s a possibility we are looking at for now.”
The Muhlbauers are also looking at options closer to Spencer.
Muhlbauer said he and his wife feel strongly about what they do, and it plays into why they are considering rebuilding what has been lost.
“It needs to be rebuilt, if the good Lord’s willing. If it all works out we’d like to get it up and running again and put a new name on it-‘Spencer Stockyards,’ and still have the same goal we’ve always had here to keep the farm boys alive. That’s our number one goal,” he said. “We gotta try.”
Along with the trauma of the structural damage, Muhlbauer said there were other valuables lost.
“We had a set of long horns that came from Sioux Falls Stockyards there was a little history behind that set of horns and they’re gone,” he said. “We also had newspaper articles about the history of the sale barn, along with pictures that I had been collecting and was getting ready to frame and hang in the arena.”
Spencer Livestock Sales was originally located in downtown Spencer, and was dismantled and relocated to its current location around 1952. The sale barn was owned for many years by Leonard and Mary Eischeid. It was a family-run operation for many years.
The Muhlbauers took over ownership in 2014. Muhlbauer is a third-generation livestock sale barn owner.
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