A hay barn was a total loss, but firefighters battling the blaze early Saturday morning, July 9, demonstrated the effectiveness of area's mutual aid system, authorities said.

Red Wing Fire Department received a call at 5:35 am. of a fire at 27005 Lehrbach Road. Firefighter/paramedics reached the scene within nine minutes and attacked the fire from the exterior, Capt. Jim Eppen said in a press release. Flames engulfed the tin shed holding approximiately 200 round bales of hay along with a tractor and snow blower.

Fire personnel then continued to extinguish the contents as they were removed from the structure by the use of a skid steer and a back hoe.

The blaze occurred in the Goodhue Fire Department district, but Red Wing was on call because Goodhue Fire Chief Mike Kehren's funeral was scheduled for that day. Red Wing then called Lake City Fire Department to supply an extra water truck and manpower at the scene.


"The fire departments in the area have a history of working well together and stepping in to help when resources are either overwhelmed or unavailable. This was a classic example of this," Eppen said.

In all, three fire engines, two tender trucks, two ambulances, nine full-time and sixteen paid-on-call firefighters worked the scene for five hours. Goodhue County Sheriff's deputies provided aid. 

Eppen issued a special thanks to neighbors John Riester and Larry Kuhl from MJS for help in using machinery to empty the shed and provide access to the burning contents. Eppen also noted that Mike Wilson of Wilson Oil delivered fuel to the fire departments' vehicles at the scene.

The cause of the fire is believed to be spontaneous combustion of hay that got wet from recent rains.

The bulk of hay was left to smolder and the owner will monitor it for a few days, the department said. 

Goodhue County records indicate the owner is Randall Vieths.

People throughout the area could smell the smoke drifting with the wind Saturday and Sunday.