Hog barn fire claims lives of two Jasper women

jasperhogfarmFire marshal investigates blaze east of Jasper

Rock County Star Herald

According to Rock County Sheriff Evan Verbrugge, Sharla Drew, 50, and Kristy (VanSurksum) Giesler, 32, both of Jasper, died in the blaze.

Drew, an employee of New Horizon Farms, and Giesler, a presser-washing contract were working inside the nursery barn.

At least two other employees where at the site near the intersection of 70th Avenue and 251st Street and were not harmed in the fire.

The Jasper Fire Department received the call at 9:21 a.m. Monday with mutual aid provided by Luverne, Edgerton, Hardwick and Pipestone fire departments.

The Jasper Community Ambulance service was also at the scene.

Four nursery barns are located on the site in Section 2 of Rose Dell Township and are owned by New Horizon Farms (NHF) of Pipestone. Only one barn, the western-most facility, was destroyed in the fire.

The 41- by 228-foot barn, which holds 2,500 pigs, was empty of livestock.

“We are all just numb at the loss,” said Bob Taubert, managing partner of NHF in a press release. “Our heartfelt sympathies go out to the families and friends of these wonderful people.

“Buildings and livestock can be replaced but human life is irreplaceable,” Taubert concluded.

This is the second barn fire in the 22-year history of New Horizon Farms.

Last year a sow unit with 3,700 sows and piglets was destroyed by fire in January 2014. No one was injured in that early morning fire.

The facility, located four miles southeast from the current fire site, has been rebuilt.

Monday’s fatal event is currently being investigated by the state fire marshal.