STUART — Seven fire departments from Guthrie, Madison and Dallas counties battled a blaze Sunday evening that rapidly gutted the Stuart Sale Co. at 523 E. Front St. in Stuart.
Stuart Police Chief Dave Reha said his department received a call from a passerby about 6:45 p.m. reporting fire in the 66-year-old wood-framed warehouse.
The Stuart Volunteer Fire Department was the lead agency at the fire, which a steady southeastern wind threatened to extend to nearby structures. By 8:45 p.m. the structure was completely destroyed.
Mutual aid in the form of manpower and water storage was sought from Guthrie County firefighters of the Adair, Casey and Menlo Volunteer Fire Departments, Madison County firefighters of the Earlham Volunteer Fire Department and Dallas County firefighters of the Dexter and Redfield Volunteer Fire Departments.
The Guthrie County Sheriff’s office and the Iowa State Patrol were also on scene.
Stuart Volunteer Fire Department Fire Chief Mike Renslow reportedly said the cause of the fire is under investigation.
There were no injuries to humans in the fire, but unconfirmed reports said as many as one dozen goats were consumed in the flames.
The smoke from the fire was visible for many miles, such as from the Panther Corner 10 miles south of Perry. Hundreds of onlookers watched while the firefighters fought the unstoppable blaze.
In a statement released Monday morning, Reha said, “Although the city of Stuart suffered a terrible loss last night, moments like these remind me why I enjoy this community so much. The dedication of this communities emergency services is second to none. Within minutes of being notified, the Stuart Fire Department and Rescue Unit were both on scene. The professionalism that these men and women show is amazing to see in action. It is also a humbling experience to witness so many neighboring communities rushing in to help and working together. This is small town Iowa at its best. Although the building was a complete loss, this community and its citizens will make it through the hardship. This much I know is true. Thank you to all the fire departments that responded from surrounding areas and, most importantly, thank you to the members of the Stuart Fire Department and Rescue Unit for all that you do. It’s an honor to work side by side with you.”