A barn near Eau Claire, Wisconsin went up in flames – taking 300 vintage sleds out. Here’s the story:

Pat Schaffer lost an impressive vintage snowmobile collection and farm machinery in a barn fire Wed-nesday, but he managed a grin this morning as he looked at the pile of twisted metal and charred lumber.

“Guess I’ll be going on a few snowmobile-buying trips,” he said, as an outline of the debris emerged through the fog and remaining smoke.

“There wasn’t anybody in there, and nobody got hurt, which is the biggest thing,” Schaffer said.

The fire at the intersection of Balsam and Cedar roads in the town of Pleasant Valley was reported at 8:46 a.m. Wednesday. A passer-by notified the Schaffers of smoke in the 100- by 300-foot storage barn a short time earlier.

Wilbert Schaffer, who co-owns the large cash grain crop operation with his son Pat, pulled a couple of pieces of equipment out of the barn and used a small fire extinguisher to attempt to put out the relatively small fire, which initially looked like it was limited to a couple of snowmobiles.

As Township Fire Department officials arrived, the fire spread along a rafter and into the roof. Once it hit the roof, it spread quickly, Wilbert Schaffer said.

“There wasn’t much we could do after that,” he said. “It went very fast.”

Pat Schaffer estimated damage at about $500,000. Items lost included about 130 snowmobiles, including 12 newer ones, a dump truck, semitrailer truck bed, tanker truck and manure spreader.

Schaffer, 38, said workers had been removing metal stalls in the barn on Tuesday and at times used a cutting torch. He and Wilbert speculated something had been smoldering.

“That’s about all we can think of,” Wilbert said.

Plans call for replacing the barn, but an exact design has not been determined, Pat Schaffer said.

About 20 fire trucks and 45 firefighters responded, said Mark Briski, spokesman for the Township Fire Department. Mutual aid was given by Rock Creek, Eleva, Strum, Altoona, Eau Claire and Chippewa Fire District departments.

Anyone know this guy? Anyone know what sleds were lost?

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