Motorist?s 911 call minimizes fire damage

Thanks to an alert eyewitness, the immediate response of firefighters and help from on-site employees, a fire Wednesday night at Countryside Feed near Hillsboro was extinguished without injury and with minimal damage.

Fire Chief Ben Steketee said a 911 call came in at 8:46 p.m. from a motorist on U.S. Highway 56 who reported seeing smoke coming from the facility at 101 Santa Fe St.

?(The fire) started in the cooler at the southwest corner of the facility in the basement,? he said. ?Something had gone wrong with the temperature control and it overheated.?

Onlookers saw a lot of smoke, Steketee said, because the feed pellets in the cooler got too hot.

The Countryside Feed crew, he said, ?helped out tremendously? by directing firefighters where they suspected the problem was, how to access it and by shutting down electrical circuits to avoid further danger.

A manufacturing representative of the affected cooler was at Countryside Feed Thursday morning to talk with officials there about replacing a couple of panels, Steketee said.

In addition, an electrician was replacing a service line for the feeder going to it.

?Once the roof gets patched,? he said, ?(Countryside Feed) will be back in operation.?

According to one official at the facility, the plant was operational by Thursday afternoon.

Steketee said the fire was completely extinguished by 10:32 p.m.

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