Fire stirs up bad memories for BP family
Last week’s tragic barn fire that resulted in the loss of cattle south of Owatonna has stirred up horrifying memories for at least one Blooming Prairie area family.
Rodney and Michelle Krell lost a similar type of barn in a fire on their farm north of Blooming Prairie in 2004. At the time, they were milking 120 dairy cows. Unlike the fire on the Brian Seykora farm last Thursday, the Krells were able to save all of their dairy cows. However, within days of the fire, they made the tough decision to sell the cows and not rebuild the dairy operation.
“Sad, sad memories,” Michelle said Monday afternoon as she relived the horrifying fire. “That’s when your life changes forever. We had lost our livelihood. Rodney had milked cows all of his life.”
Michelle said she remembers being awakened by pounding on the door around midnight, only to find their barn engulfed in flames. “I could feel the heat on my face when I opened the door,” she said, adding they were able to save the cattle by moving them into another area of the barn.
In Krell’s case, they decided it was far too costly to rebuild as insurance would not provide full replacement value.
“A lot of life decisions have to be made in a short period of time when devastated by fire,” said Michelle, who is the director of teaching and learning for Owatonna Schools. “It was a super hard decision with a lot of emotions… devastation, sadness and grief.”
Now Michelle feels for the Seykora family as they face a similar situation.
“My heart goes out to the Seykoras,” said Michelle. “We know the heartache and headache that goes with this.”
Michelle didn’t waste any time helping out the Seykoras. On the night of the fire, she reached out to a colleague who happens to operate a dairy farm with her husband in eastern Steele County. The next morning, the surviving cows from the Seykora fire were loaded into trailers and dropped off at the Clover Glen Farm.
“Farmers pull together and everyone is willing to help someone pull through a tough situation,” Michelle said.
The Seykora dairy herd is well respected throughout the state as it has finished in the top 10 for dairy production. “It takes a long time to build a herd like that,” Michelle said. “Brian has an amazing herd.”
Michelle said she knows how difficult the next few weeks will be for the Seykoras as they try to determine what to do next. “I feel really sad for them,” she said.
In between the raw emotions Seykora has been feeling since the fire, he has been trying to keep a positive attitude. “Someone told me the night of the fire, ‘Sometimes tragedy brings opportunity,’” Seykora said. “I gave them a hug and told them we would figure it out.”
And that certainly rings true in the Krell situation as something positive came out of their fire from 16 years ago. Michelle and Rodney’s son Justin, who was just 14 years old at the time, later became a volunteer firefighter with Blooming Prairie. He was on the scene helping to battle the Seykora fire last week.
Michelle said the fire at their farm had such a profound impact on Justin, now 31, that he became a firefighter because of it. “That was the influence for him. Justin became a firefighter to give back to the community,” she said. “They risk their lives to take care of our community.”
I suspect, given time, the Seykoras will be going in hot pursuit of turning their tragedy into a new opportunity.