UPDATE (9:55 a.m.) — Firefighters continue to wet down the south side of the barn, which contains straw and continues to smolder.

The cows had access to the outdoors through the side of the barn. None of the livestock was injured, confirmed ISU spokesperson Eric Jome.

From Lexington IL Fire Department on Facebook

Fire departments from Fairbury, Pontiac, Leroy, and Cooksville were on scene with Lexington firefighters.

The south end of the barn was where the fire was concentrated and is now a total loss. Captain Ian Bruckner, a spokesperson for Lexington Fire Protection District said the hay made their battle last nearly 12 hours.

“This half of the building had straw stacked up against the entire length of the half. And that will just smolder for a very long time so that’s what we’ve been doing since sun up. Basically, excavators came to help tear the walls down, tear the piles down,” Bruckner said.

Firefighters arrived at the scene around 12:40 Friday morning with crews coming as far as Le Roy and Pontiac.

“Those are kind of unusual for us, it’s got to be a very long event and this was,” Bruckner said.

On top of the flames and straw piles, firefighters also braved frigid cold temperatures barely above 20 degrees.

We’ve had some nozzles freeze up, some valves freeze so we had to take some time to thaw those out and get back to it. Lots of extra engines around so we never hampered suppression efforts,” Bruckner said.

Jome said all the cattle inside the barn had been relocated to another local farm.

“There will be some impact on classes, but the exact extent of that remains to be seen,” Jome said.

Jome said the barn, much like every university building was insured. Agriculture staff and ISU will work in the coming months to figure out the next steps.

“Overtime, the building would be rebuilt so that would certainly be the plan, but that takes time and there are several steps involved with that,” Jome said.


LEXINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — Firefighters have been working for hours Friday morning in an effort to put out a fire that broke out at the Illinois State University Farm in Lexington.

The fire was first reported at around 12:40 a.m. by a McLean County Sheriff’s deputy, who saw the farm’s cow barn on fire while driving on Interstate 55.

From Lexington IL Fire Department on Facebook

According to Lexington IL Fire Department’s Facebook page, the north half of the cow barn seems to have been saved by fire suppression efforts, but the south half, which houses straw, will likely continue to smolder.

The City of Lexington provided water to combat the fire. Responding fire departments included Lexington, Towanda, Chenoa, Gridley, Hudson, El Paso, Colfax, Cooksville, and Normal. McLean County Sheriff’s deputies, ISU Police, Illinois State Police, and the State Fire Marshal were all onsite as well.

As of 5 a.m., firefighters were still on the scene, rotating through duty while taking time to warm up, eat, and rehydrate. No injuries have been reported.

The cause of the fire is unknown and remains under investigation.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.