LYNDEN - A large barn fire at a dairy farm east of Lynden killed 20 calves and a horse Wednesday morning, Jan. 9.
Farmer Bradley Tevelde awoke at 4 a.m. to milk his cows. He was met by smoke and flames in his 50-by-100-foot stable barn at 1747 Kamm Road, said Lynden Fire Assistant Chief Robert Spinner.
Firefighters arrived to find the barn blazing. Two horses and "a bunch of cows" were guided to safety, said Whatcom County Fire Marshal Will Anderson. But many of the calves didn't make it.
The biggest flames were beaten down after about 45 minutes. But a second-floor hay loft collapsed, leaving firefighters to battle for another four hours, as they made sure no hotspots were buried in the hay. Sheds almost touching three sides of the barn were saved.
"Those firefighters did an outstanding job," Anderson said.
The century-old barn housed the farm's milking parlor. The structure was a total loss. Investigators estimated the total property damage at $400,000.
Old, pre-World War II wiring in the second-floor loft - where the wires may have come in contact with a hay bale and gotten hot - appeared to have caused the fire, Anderson said.
Tevelde's cousin, Robert Smit, said the farm has been in the family for two generations, and Tevelde has lived on the farm his entire life.
"Considering the circumstances, (the Teveldes) are doing very well," Smit said.
To rebuild the parlor alone probably would cost upwards of $150,000, Smit said, and a roof then needs to go over that. For a small dairy, Smit said, that's a lot of capital.
In the meantime, 125 head of cattle were taken to the Edaleen Dairy farm on Depot Road. For hours Wednesday, friends and neighbors helped to transport the cows and clean up charred debris from the farm.
Reach Caleb Hutton at email@example.com or 360-715-2276. Read his Dispatcher blog at blogs.bellinghamherald.com/dispatcher or get updates on Twitter at @bhamcrime.