Fire destroys milking parlor of Benton County dairy farm - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Fire destroys milking parlor of Benton County dairy farm

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(KWWL) -

A Vinton family is staying positive after a fire burned their milking parlor, taking a big piece of the family farms history. Nobody was hurt, and all the cattle were saved. 

Owner and third generation farmer Ken Birker says they were milking their cattle when they began to see smoke Sunday evening.  

"All of a sudden we saw smoke and called the fire department," said  Birker. "It was already engulfed by that time. And we didn't have much chance, all we did is try to save the other buildings and the cattle.

Birker says the farm has been in the family for more than a hundred years, so when they saw smoke they did everything they could to move the cows out. 

The family was able to move out all 250 cows before the fire spread. 

"It's kind of amazing in a farming community, that you can make those phone calls and suddenly there's four semi-pots to haul cattle away and seven trailers of just friends and people to herd, just showed up with their trailers," said Ken's daughter-in-law Jenni Birker. 

Despite their milking parlor being a total loss, the Birker family is pushing on, saying it's nearly 100 year history won't go down with the fire. 

"This was kind of his grandpa, and his great-grandpa, this is what they did," said Jenni Birker. "So they've built it from the ground up. But dairy has always been the heart of the farm here."

Their milking parlor, now just rubble. Even as the rubble continue to smolder, Birker says he's already planning on rebuilding. 

"Like I said, this is a test, you know, how much you can edure, you know," said Birker. "You gotta be to be farming and dairy farming on top of that...pretty strong."

"These guys they work their tails off everyday, and the cows come first all the time," said Jenni Birker. "So it doesn't matter, if its three in the morning you're soaked to the bone and you're freezing your tail off, they're gonna take care of the cows and they're going to do it first. "

Firefighters have ruled arson out, saying they don't believe the fire was suspicious. However, firefighters are continuing to investigate, looking into see if it was an electrical issue.

All the Birkers cattle are being held in two farms north of Independence in the meantime. 

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