Disaster, again: Minnesota barn fire that killed about 1,000 goats, litter of puppies echoes 2020 blaze

A fire at the same farm on Christmas Eve 2020 caused the deaths of about 1,000 milking goats, 15 peacocks and a dog.

barn picture two from 2020.jpg
Goats roam a rebuilt barn on the Stephen and Brittany Springer farm near Henning, Minn., in August 2021. The barn was rebuilt after a Christmas Eve fire in 2020 caused the death of about 1,000 goats and other animals.
Rebecca Mitchell / Pioneer Journal.

HENNING, Minn. — A barn fire near Henning that occurred Friday morning, May 13, that killed hundreds of goats and a litter of puppies was an echo of a Christmas 2020 fire at the same rural Henning farm.

According to a report released by the Otter Tail County Sheriff's Office on Friday:

A fire was reported about 10 a.m. at a farm near Henning. The caller said a large barn was on fire with livestock inside.

Firefighters from Henning, Deer Creek, Ottertail, Vining and Wadena responded to the fire.

The barn was fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived.


An owner of the barn told authorities there were about 1,000 goats and a litter of puppies inside the barn that did not survive.

It is believed the fire began in bales of straw used for bedding, the sheriff's office said.

The sheriff's office said it is investigating the cause of the fire with the assistance of the state Fire Marshal's Office.

A fire at the same farm on Christmas Eve 2020 caused the deaths of about 1,000 milking goats, 15 peacocks and a dog, according to a story published by the Wadena Pioneer Journal in August of 2021.

The Pioneer Journal story stated that the Springer family and its Cornerstone Farm hosted a brunch on their farm Aug. 14 to thank the community for helping them rebuild the farm following the Christmas Eve blaze.

springer barn from 2021.jpg
In the rebuilt barn, co-owner of Cornerstone Farm Brittany Springer talks with Wadena farmer Greg Malone about the new goat barn on Aug. 14, 2021. The family lost their barn, milk parlor, tractors, straw, 1,000 milking goats, 15 peacocks and a dog in a Christmas Eve fire.
Rebecca Mitchell / Pioneer Journal

The story quoted a note the Springer family issued as a thank you to the community, which read:

“We want to extend a HUGE thank you to ALL of our friends and family that have helped us with any aspect of this tragedy. Some of you helped physically, emotionally and/or financially. For this, we will be forever grateful.

“Your thoughts, well wishes, gifts and especially prayers have helped us through these last 8 months of trials, heartaches and challenges," the note added.


According to the Pioneer Journal story, Stephen and Brittany Springer family started their sustainable farm in 2017 and essentially rebuilt several farm buildings after the 2020 fire.

The family sells produce, beef and pork and have community supported agriculture shares for a produce program and farmer’s markets once a week in Battle Lake, the Pioneer Journal story said.

Efforts to reach the Springer family Friday were not successful.

I'm a reporter and a photographer and sometimes I create videos to go with my stories.

I graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead and in my time with The Forum I have covered a number of beats, from cops and courts to business and education.

I've also written about UFOs, ghosts, dinosaur bones and the planet Pluto.

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