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Howard Farmer's Co-op Considers Itself Lucky After Grain Bin Fire

March 21, 2014, 5:08 PM by Leland Steva

Howard Farmer's Co-op Considers Itself Lucky After Grain Bin Fire
HOWARD, SD -

A fire destroyed a grain elevator at the Howard Farmer's Co-op overnight. Despite the damage, the General Manger of the Co-op considers the business lucky.

Fire crews in the Howard area were called to the fire just before nine last night. They battled the blaze for more than 12 hours. And even though firefighters weren't able to save the grain elevator where the fire began, they were able to minimize the damage to other buildings at the site.

Heavy equipment is hard at work, cleaning up debris after the blaze that left Howard residents stunned.

"Huge. Lots of smoke and it was pretty scary at first," Howard resident Gabrielle Helmich said.

After firefighters' long battle putting the flames out, crews at Howard Farmer's Co-op are left to pick up the pieces and get back to work.

"It will slow up our process a little bit but we'll find ways to speed ourselves back up," General Manager Bruce Yanish said.

The damage to the Co-op is extensive and could take months to rebuild, but Yanish says without the help from surrounding volunteer fire departments, the story could have been a lot worse.

"I cannot emphasize... the fire departments, Howard, Canova, Fedora and whoever else came on staff to take care of what we needed to do very quickly," Yanish said.

Surprisingly, the timing couldn't have been better for the business. Firefighters were training in Howard when they received the fire call, that led to a quick response to the scene. Cooler temperatures and low winds, Yanish says, also worked in the Co-op's favor.  

The fire only slightly damaged the feed mill at the Co-op, and employees should be able to fix the damage and start receiving feed again soon. Considering how dangerous and destructive fires can be, the General Manager of the Co-op says everything that could have gone wrong, actually went right.

"We feel extremely fortunate we were able to save one part of our business with minimal damage," Yanish said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. This is the second major fire in Howard recently. Howard Cold Storage was completely destroyed in November. That business is in the process of being rebuilt at its original downtown location.

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