Cause unknown in Whitewater barn fire that killed 200 animals

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Andrea Anderson
Thursday, April 10, 2014

WHITEWATER—Deanna Dieter's dogs were going wild, and she could hear crackling outside.

Curious, she looked out a window and saw her neighbor's barn on fire.

She called police about 6:30 a.m. Thursday to report the fire at W. 5860 Tri County Line Road. She knew hundreds of animals were inside the barn.

Dieter went to her neighbor's house, owned by Neal Travis, and banged on the door.

Scott Cannon, who lives at the house, came out and ran to the barn with the intention of saving the animals. He was too late.

The fire northwest of Whitewater killed about 200 goats, sheep, lambs, birds and dogs.

The barn, owned by Travis, was a total loss. The cause is unknown.

Firefighters were on scene from about 6:45 to 10 a.m., said neighbor and brother-in-law John Loomis, 11106 East Tri County Line Road.

Loomis lives across the road and said he can see the barn, perched on a slight hill, from his bathroom window.

“There weren't a lot of flames. It was just burning all around,” Loomis said.

The roof had collapsed when Loomis first saw the barn on fire about 6:30 a.m.

“I heard this 'pop! pop!' and thought it must be tires,” Loomis said.

He later learned they were the tires of a wagon inside the barn.

“I just saw black smoke,” said Dieter of W. 5856 Tri County Line Road.

When Whitewater firefighters arrived, they bulldozed the barn to prevent the fire from spreading or starting again.

The barn, estimated by family and friends to be about 600 square feet, had basic electric wiring for lights, but nothing more, Cannon said.

Inside were about 200 animals that Dieter cared for.

“I'm heartbroken,” she said.

Dieter, Loomis and Cannon said the fire started sometime after 4 a.m. because that's when Travis came back from work briefly to pick up his cellphone.

“Whatever happened, it happened very quickly,” Cannon said.

The barn is about 20 years old, Loomis said, and is one of a few places where Travis keeps animals.

“He loves animals,” said Loomis, adding that Travis sells some of them.

Travis came home from work when he got the call that his barn was on fire. He left after the fire was out.

“He didn't want to be here,” Dieter said, adding that Travis felt that there was nothing more he could do.

“I can't believe it; the shed is gone,” Loomis said while walking along the charred ground where hay and parts of the shed remained.

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