News: Loyal – Northside Elevator Fire (Nov 1970)


Surnames: Brussow, Marten, Degenhardt, Luchterhand, Smith

----Source: Tribune/Record/Gleaner (Loyal, Wis.) 19 Nov 1970

Steve and Tom Brussow, owners of Northside Elevator in Loyal (Clark Co., Wis.), began Monday to reorganized their business operation after fire destroyed the building housing their business, all their grinding equipment, feed inventory and several trucks.

The fire was discovered about 11:30 p.m. Friday by Loyal Police Chief, Bill Marten. The Loyal Fire Department responded to the alarm and fought vainly to get at the flames.

As the flames became uncontrollable, efforts were made to keep the fire in check and to protect nearby buildings.

Fortunately there was very little wind in the below freezing temperatures. Degenhardt’s Bar and the Luchterhand Implement Building, across the street, were wet down several times. The Luchterhand Implement building suffered broken windows as the cold water struck the hot glass.

Also hosed down was the Gorsegner Building across the street and south of the Northside Elevator building. Because the fire started in the center of the building, it was possible for firemen to keep the flames in check as they reached the old house owned by Northside on the north side of the mill and used for storage. This gave firemen an opportunity to prevent the flames from spreading too rapidly and endangering the Carrie Smith home next in line to the north.

Added to the danger of fighting the fire was the power lines which, as they were burnt off from the building and fell to the ground spouting sparks.

The huge cyclone dust collector added its own spectacular bit to the fire as it came toppling down, striking the street lighting power lines in a fire red glow, catching on the line and bobbing up and down before coming to rest on the line. Street lights on the east side of Main Street were quickly snuffed out.

Steve Brussow was alone in the apartment above the feed mill office and was unaware of the blaze.

In an effort to alarm him, some teenagers were blocked from going up the stairway by heavy smoke. They were finally able to get his attention by breaking a window. Steve found his escape down the stairways blocked and got out of the building by jumping out of the apartment onto a roof of the mill in the back of the building. He escaped only in his stocking feet, T-shirt and pants. Firemen tried later to reenter the apartment through a window, but were driven back by heat and heavy smoke.

Destroyed by the fire besides the feed mill building, were about 250 tons of corn, oats, bran and protein in storage, all the grinding equipment, a new 1971 Ford truck with a hydra-vator loader and box used by farm pickup with only 1,400 miles on it and a 1965 one ton truck.

Pulled from the burning building and suffering only minor damages to hydraulic hoses, was a 1968 bulk feed truck. A 1965 Ford pickup was also pulled from the building, but damage estimates to that have not be made yet.

The loss totaled between $85,000 and $100,000 and was partially covered by insurance.

Most of the firm’s records were saved making a resumption of business much easier.

Steve Brussow told the Tribune-Record-Glaeaner Monday that plans for rebuilding had not been made yet awaiting word from the fire adjusters. He did say that they have set up temporary facilities to serve their farm feed customers with an office at the O.W. Trindal Feed Mill, where they will do the most of their grinding at the present time. A mobile truck is also available if required.

Northside Elevator was purchased by the Brussows in 1948 from August Witt and Sons, and was housed in one of the Loyal’s old landmarks believed to be between 75 and 100 years old.

The Northside Elevator fire was the first major fire in Loyal since the 25 by 125 foot Picus Store building burned on the night of Thursday, February 7, 1945.



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