UPDATE: Fire at Cow/Calf Unit contained

Firefighters work to put out the remains of the fire at the SDSU Cow/Calf Unit around 9:30 a.m. (photo by Andrew Turner)


A fire early this morning took out the entire middle section of the SDSU Cow/Calf Unit, said Shawna Reuer, the student employee on duty.

Reuer, a junior animal science major, was checking the cows for new calves.

“It was about a quarter after 4 a.m., and I started noticing there was something different in the air,” Reuer said.

She stepped outside and saw “one of the big windows engulfed in flames.” She immediately called the Brookings Police Department and then let out the livestock.

The SDSU Police Department and the Brookings Police and Fire departments responded within 15 minutes, she said, and the fire was under control around 8 a.m. Mike Lockrem, director of Marketing and Communications at University Relations, said no person or animal was injured.

Brookings Fire Chief Darrell Hartmann said the fire has been contained and will not spread to the north or south wings.

Reuer said it took a while for the fire to be contained because of the vehicle equipment, three propane tanks and abundance of straw and hay in the building.

“There was just so much fuel for the fire to just keep going,” she said.

Hartmann said the cause of the fire is currently unknown, but a tractor that was plugged in overnight is one of the suspected possibilities. No foul play is suspected.

Because of the extensive damage, Lockrem said the unit may be relocated.

“Bottom line is no one’s hurt,” said Bob Otterson, executive assistant to the president.

Photographer Andrew Turner contributed to this report.