Fire destroys large crop of feed hay

Family thanks community for support

Firefighters from New England Rural Fire Protection District responded to a fire at PJ’s Dairy Farm nine miles east of New England. The firefighting crew arrived around 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 24 to see much of the stock of feeding hay ablaze.

A majority of PJ’s Dairy’s feed hay was lost to a fire. The fire was attributed to a still-hot ember and high winds in the area. (Photo Courtesy of Nikki Erickson)

A call to the New England fire department was not immediately returned.

About two weeks prior, Jim Krebs, who owns and operates the farm with his wife Pauly, was cleaning up some old hay in the feed lot. He had pushed it up to one pile and burned it down.

Though measures were taken to extinguish the blaze, high winds in the area had kept some embers burning. A gust drove the hot ember to another part of the farm and the Krebs’s supply of feeder hay caught fire, and destroyed nearly all of their supply. Jim was able to save 40 bales.

“It must have obviously got stirred up by that wind,” said Nikki Erickson, daughter of the Krebs who was speaking on behalf of her parents. “So there was obviously some hot embers still in those piles.”

The fire destroyed their usable feeder hay, which is used to provide food for their more than 500 head of cattle that supports their dairy business.

“Basically the hay and then the silage was all gone besides 40 bales,” she said. “And that was all that he was able to recover.”

Crews battling the blaze where on the dairy property until about 7 p.m., according to witness accounts.

The department then came back two days later with another water truck to make sure the fire was completely extinguished. Soil was then dumped on top of where the fire had been put out, for extra measure.

The couple saw an immediate response of support from the community. By the next morning after the fire, they had already received two loads of crop to process into feed for their cattle.

“This is one of the things that I really would love to push across, is just how grateful, thankful, and humble we are, in the sense of we got hay from as far as South Heart, to south of Mandan, to New England ranchers who donated hay,” she said. “They were trucking it out to get it there and that’s just a such a huge blessing.”

Erickson also said that she and her sisters have started a crowdsourcing page with GoFundMe, with the hope of giving friends and relatives an easy way of helping with donations if they wish.

“I feel that God works through people, and I feel like this is the way he is blessing them and it’s through what people can do here on Earth, so we set it up originally hoping that it would be an easy way for our family and close friends [to help], and it was just absolutely amazing to see the out pouring support of the people in our community.”

As of June 5, the campaign had already raised nearly $6,500 of their $10,000 goal. But Erickson told the Herald that after considering donations of feed and money outside of the GoFundMe page, they had already surpassed the $10,000.

“We had a great response from it,” she said.

The Krebs want to thank the New England Volunteer Fire District for their work in extinguishing the fire. They also wanted to give their appreciation to the many friends and family that also have helped them through this ordeal.

“We are very humbled by the support and generosity,” the Krebs said in a joint statement.

Erickson said that the money that has been raised will continue to go towards purchasing more crop for feeding hay.

Anyone wishing to help the duo can visit and search for their campaign by typing ‘Hay for Krebs Dairy’ in the search box at the forefront of the home page.

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