Two-alarm fire damages Washougal dairy

Two buildings destroyed at Stauffer's Dairy Farm

By Paul Suarez, Columbian web producer

Published:

Updated: July 2, 2012, 8:59 PM

 

A two-alarm fire destroyed two buildings at a Washougal dairy farm early Monday.

The blaze was reported at 12:30 a.m. at Stauffer’s Dairy Farm, 541 S.E. Blair Road. East County Fire & Rescue quickly requested a second alarm. The Camas-Washougal and Vancouver fire departments also responded.

The blaze was “fast-moving” by the time it was reported, ECF&R spokesman Rick Knapp said.

Gary Stauffer, who runs the farm with his brother, Dennis Stauffer, said the family was first told of the fire by a passer-by who spotted it while driving by on Blair Road. The family hurried to let the cows out of the area near the fire and off the road.

“(There was) nothing much we could really do,” Gary Stauffer said. “We didn’t know how much was going to burn.”

Firefighters set up a defensive attack around the building to prevent it from spreading to nearby buildings, including a farm house across the two-lane road. Five 2,500-gallon water tenders were called to the scene to supply water. The area has no nearby hydrants.

Firefighters wrapped up around 8 a.m., spokesman Knapp said. By that time the fire had charred milking and loafing sheds on the property. The family doesn’t think any cows were killed in the fire.

Firefighters were again called to the scene just after 8:30 a.m. when the “grain tank” caught fire, Knapp said. It’s not uncommon for smoldering material to start another fire, he said.

Firefighters controlled the fire while the Stauffer family, neighbors and friends loaded cows primed for milk production into trailers to be taken to friends’ dairies in the Proebstel area and Ridgefield, Gary Stauffer said. Their 140 dairy cows are typically milked twice a day.

The family kept cows that aren’t used for milk production on the property, he said.

What’s next for the dairy?

“(I) hadn’t thought that far ahead,” Stauffer said, adding it will be an adjustment.

The cause of the fire is unknown.

Fire Marshal Richard Martin is on the case but said it will be a few days until the fire is “cool enough” for him to investigate.

The farm has been in business since 1937.