Fire destroys wood shop

—Amish community rebuilds in days
CRESCO - At 8:54 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, the Howard County Sheriff’s Office took a 911 call of a shed fire at 7011 Unity Ave., northwest of Cresco.  
Cresco Community Fire Department Chief Neal Stapelkamp said, “The entire shed was fully involved upon arrival, with fire threatening another structure that was very close to the fire.  Initial efforts were to save the threatened structure, which was accomplished, and then the fire department worked to extinguish the involved structure.”
Howard County Sheriff Tim Beckman reported the owner of the shed was Fred Miller. It was an Amish woodworking shop about 50x60 feet.
“Fred said he was warming up a diesel engine in the shed with a kerosene heater, and he went to town to get a battery.” When he came back, he noticed the smoke, and he tried to put the fire out with fire extinguishers. 
Beckman added, “He said he almost had the fire out, but was just a couple minutes too late. The shed is obviously a total loss.”
A friend of Miller, Joe Beachy, shared the owner didn’t feel confident with the extinguishers he owned, so he purchased some bigger and better units. They were delivered the day after the fire. 
Stapelkamp noted heat was restored to the adjacent building that was saved, which was the Woodworking Finishing Building. 
Cresco Community Fire Department kept the fire from spreading to the nearby finishing shed, but it had some damage from the heat. 
The temperature that day hovered around zero with wind chills reaching negative 30ºF.
Cresco firefighters were on scene for approximately three-and-a-half hours. 
The Cresco Community Fire Department was assisted on scene by the Lime Spring Fire Department, Regional Health Ambulance Service, the Howard County Sheriff’s Office and Cresco Fire Dispatch. 
Neighbors help neighbors
According to friend Ron Corbin of Cresco, the embers were still warm when neighbors and friends started clearing away the debris from the slab. 
“By 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 1, holes were being drilled for the new structure and lumbers was already being delivered. On Thursday, Feb. 2, the new building was enclosed, except for the west end.”
Corbin noted 45 workers were served lunch on Thursday.
Unbelievably, the work was finished up by Friday, three days after the loss, including insulating and lining the walls.
The new building is much bigger than the original. Plans are to put concrete over the existing concrete and add more to the rest.
In addition, although the wood finishing building was saved, the plan is to  disassemble and include it in the new structure.
All of the equipment was destroyed and will need to be replaced.
The new shop should be better than ever when it is back up and running, thanks to friends and neighbors.


Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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