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Fire kills many alpaca at Colfax farm

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX —  A fire at the farm of Mike Schmit of Colfax Saturday night killed several dozen alpaca.

Colfax, Menomonie and four other fire departments responded to the call.

According to Battalion Chief Denny Klass of the Menomonie Fire Department, the Menomonie department received the call at 11:50 p.m. at Schmit’s farm on 850th Avenue in the Town of Tainter.

The entire Town of Tainter is in the Menomonie fire protection district.

Colfax and Menomonie received the call at about the same time, said Don Logslett, Colfax fire chief.

By the time the Menomonie Fire Department arrived, the 80 x 140 foot pole building was completely engulfed in fire and part of the roof was already down, Klass said.

Firefighters were on the scene until 5 a.m., he said.

Fire department investigators were told there were 110 alpaca in the barn and that roughly 30 to 40 animals died in the fire, Klass said.

The building was valued at $156,000 and was a total loss, including all of the contents, except for the alpaca that managed to make it out alive, he said.

No injuries were reported as a result of the fire, Klass said.

“It was another very cold night to fight a fire,” he said.

Temperatures Saturday night were below zero.

The fire remains under investigation, Klass said.

Schmit was injured in a fireworks accident at his residence earlier in the week on February 11 and suffered a “great amount of damage” to one hand, according to a news release from the Dunn County Sheriff’s Department.

The Colfax Rescue Squad transported Schmit to the intersection of County Highway BB and Highway B where he was transferred to the Mayo One Air Ambulance and flown to Mayo-Luther Eau Claire for treatment.

Schmit is the founder of Schmit Prototypes in Menomonie. After selling the business a number of years ago, he invested in a herd of alpaca.