East Moline family loses barn in fire

EAST MOLINE, Illinois (KWQC) - So far, this year has been a rough one for farmers in general. After the long winter and wet planting season, a family from East Moline has taken another hit – losing a barn in a fire early Tuesday morning.

Karen Bohnert says Monday was the first day in a while her and her family were getting a lot done around the farm. They felt good going to sleep, saying it was the day they needed to get this year turned around and back on track. Little did they know they'd wake up just a few hours later to a horrific scene.

“We lost about 250 acres that didn't get planted. Just a week ago we had bad storms that dumped two inches of rain, we lost power and had to dump milk,” said Bohnert Jerseys farm part owner, Karen Bohnert. “It just feels like it's been crisis mode around here, and we're exhausted - but this takes the cake.”

It's just one thing after another for our area farmers.

“My father-in-law who lives here on the farm was woken up at 1:00 AM to a loud boom, like an explosion, and he looked outside his bedroom window and saw a wall of flames,” said Bohnert.

Karen says her husband's instincts kicked in, and he got all the calves out of that barn.

“It was heartbreaking to watch that but also inspiring because he does what he does every day of the year - lead with his heart and always with cow care in mind,” she added.

But, the community has already stepped up.

“It's kind of a day to day process but immediately it's like, we have to find a home for these 200 young calves,” said Bohnert. “The local community is always wonderful. We've had numerous people reach out, so those 200 calves will get split up between three or four local farms and be housed there temporarily.”

All calves were saved, and are being looked after now.

“If there's any issues, a veterinarian will be called immediately,” she said. “And on our farm every two weeks we have them out here and they've already called wondering what they can do to help.”

The Bohnerts will continue pushing forward.

“It does wear you down,” said Bohnert. “But we're strong and we'll persevere.”

The family believes the loud bang sound they heard in the middle of the night was the sound of a tire near the fire popping. They say they're just thankful all of their calves made it out alive, and no other buildings were lost.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.