Fire destroys barn at Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm
Fire destroyed a historic barn on Iverson Family Farms property next to the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm on Friday. Firefighters from Monitor, Mount Angel, Woodburn, Silverton, Aurora, Hubbard and Canby responded and managed to protect several adjacent buildings and a home, but the barn was a total loss.
An electrical problem may have sparked the fire, but it will be hard to determine due the extent of the damage according to Monitor fire chief Mike Ewart.
"It burned really hot and there is not a lot left," Ewart said.
The fire could have been much worse if the wind had picked up Ewart said.
"Embers were flying everywhere, some were found about a mile away," he said.
Ewart said that a much larger fire could have been spread by the wind similar to how the Eagle Creek fire sparked other wildfires in the Columbia Gorge last year.
"That's what can happen this time of year, and it's only gonna get worse. People have to be careful," Ewart said.
Former Monitor fire chief and Iverson family member Paul Iverson was one of the first firefighters on the scene. The second story of the barn was already engulfed in flames and the first floor had started to go up by the time he got there Iverson said.
"It was obvious the building was unsaveable," Iverson said.
Firefighters rushed to defend several adjacent buildings and a home about 50 to 60 feet away. The buildings were in a line and there was a danger that the fire would jump from building to building.
"It was all headed toward the house, the fire could have just burned down the whole line," Iverson said.
Iverson said the barn was used primarily for storing displays and equipment for the Tulip Festival. He was sad to see it gone.
"It was a good old barn, not as practical for farm use function wise. But there's not a lot of these left anymore," Iverson said.
Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm owner Barb Iverson and a farm employee were the first to see the fire. They spotted it by chance while driving around the farm for work.
"Had we not gone down that way we probably would have lost everything else," Iverson said.
"The way cinders were flying it would have got to the neighbors," she said.
Iverson praised the work of the fire departments that responded and saved the nearby structures.
"I appreciate all their help, without them it would have been worse," Iverson said.
Iverson's said her six barn cats escaped the fire, but were confused by the loss of their home. Horses were moved from a nearby pasture and several sheep were turned out of one of the adjacent buildings threatened by the fire.
Iverson was brought to tears briefly remembering the history of the barn. It was built in the 1930's she said, and had been originally owned by Ingal Edland, who managed the Monitor feed mill. Edland had designed and patented a seed mixer and cleaner in 1930 which was still in the barn.
"We used it last fall, turned it on and it still worked," Iverson said.
The building was irreplaceable Iverson said. She had recently repainted it and had work done on the shingles, and planned to repair one of the barn doors.
"I don't want a tin shed, the way they built it, the old-growth wood, it was solid." Iverson said.
"It was a terrible loss, but it could have been so much worse," she said.