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Tri-County Livestock Auction destroyed by fire

Minnesota Fire Marshal Mark Germain follows Wayne Hoffman Monday while investiga1 / 3
Minnesota Fire Marshal Mark Germain follows Wayne Hoffman Monday while investiga2 / 3
This photo taken by Heather Eischeid shows firefighters from several area fire d3 / 3

MOTLEY — Three fire departments with more than 45 firefighters battled a fire at the Tri-County Livestock Auction building in Motley Sunday night, Motley Fire Chief Dave Greig said.

The building was a complete loss.

No one was hurt and there were no livestock in the building at the time of the fire, said Greig. The business had its auction on Saturday.

The fire was reported at 8:48 p.m. by a passer-by as an attic fire. Greig said when Motley firefighters arrived on scene they could see flames coming out of the front part of the building by the soffits. Firefighters were unable to get to the attic to extinguish the fire.

“We tried to get up there but we couldn’t get to it,” Greig said. “The layout of the building, it was hard to gain entry to the upstairs.”

Greig said he called Staples and Scandia Valley fire departments for mutual aid.

“We knew it was going to get engulfed at that point,” Greig said.

Greig said that the fire started in the attic above the cafeteria area, but the cause of the fire is unknown. The Minnesota Fire Marshal is investigating the cause of the fire.

Greig said there were 17 Motley firefighters and eight fire trucks on scene; Staples had 15 firefighters, a ladder truck and five trucks on scene; and Scandia Valley had 15 firefighters and five trucks on scene.

About 30,000 gallons of water was used, said Greig.

Greig said that a window frame at the business rekindled Monday morning and firefighters were able to extinguish it.

Greig said that firefighters cleared the scene at 2:46 a.m. Monday.

Tri-County Livestock Auction, that sells hogs, sheep and all classes of cattle, is owned by Joe Varner and managed by John Eischeid and Wayne Hoffman. The business is located just off Highway 10, one mile west of Motley.

Joe Eischeid said his father, John Eischeid, and Hoffman sold the business in 1998. Eischeid and Hoffman manage the sale barn and own the feed yard around the building.

“My dad and Wayne built that barn in 1981,” said Eischeid. “I grew up in it. I know everything there is to know ... To watch it burn was not something I ever wanted to do. It’s a business that started with a thought that these two guys had, that is the hardest part to deal with (seeing it burn). They built everything that is there.”

Eischeid said the families are devastated by the loss of the barn building that hosted the auctions, offices and a cafeteria.

“I would assume that he’ll (Varner) rebuild it,” said Eischeid. “That is what he lives for, so I can’t imagine them not rebuilding it, but I’m sure it depends on the insurance.”

Eischeid said the family was happy that no one was hurt and that there was no cattle around.

“It could have happened on Saturday when we had 300 people in the auction ring,” Eischeid said. “That would not have been good.”

Eischeid said part of an attached barn was damaged that held the cattle Saturday.

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at or 855-5851. Follow me on Twitter at