Two-alarm fire at dairy farm in Washougal

Two buildings destroyed

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Emergency crews responded to a two-alarm fire early Monday morning at Stauffer’s Dairy Farm in Washougal.

East County Fire and Rescue was dispatched to 541 S.E. Blair Road at approximately 12:30 a.m., and arrived to find a loafing shed and milking shed fully involved with fire, said ECFR Public Information Officer Rick Knapp Monday morning. The approximately 60 by 80 foot loafing shed, where cows are collected prior to milking, was the largest of the two structures destroyed.

Fire crews from ECFR, Camas, Washougal and Vancouver battled the fire, which also threatened other structures on the property.

Because there were no hydrants in the immediate area, water tenders had to be brought in to battle the blaze. Knapp said the five 2,500 gallon tankers were ferried back and forth between the scene and ECFR Station 91 where they were filled.

Knapp said ECFR personnel, who often respond to calls in rural areas, are familiar with facing this kind of obstacle.

“There was never a situation where we were out of water and had to stop the effort,” he said of Monday’s incident.

Other factors that made fighting this fire challenging included the fact that firefighters had to wait to begin dousing the structure with water until Clark Public Utilities could disable the power to overhead electrical lines. In addition, crews had to work around a large ceramic tile grain silo, which was no longer in use but presented a collapse hazard.

Stauffer’s Dairy Farm was established in 1937 and has approximately 140 head of dairy cows. Emergency crews worked with the property owners and local neighbors to get the cattle into a nearby pasture and out of harm’s way. Two cows are suspected to have died in the fire.

“Monumental effort was made to protect the rest of the structures and the livestock,” Knapp said.

No injuries were reported. The cause of the fire is being investigated.

Knapp said the fire was initially discovered and called into 911 by an alert ECFR volunteer, who was on his way home when he spotted flames at the property.

With the second alarm, the crews from neighboring jurisdictions rushed to the scene to help out.

“That is really important in a situation like this,” Knapp said.