An morning fire Tuesday caused nearly $300,000 in damages when it ripped through an agribusiness barn and its contents in Watertown.

“When we arrived on scene, the barn was fully engulfed in flames with the roof starting to collapse,” Watertown Fire Chief Kraig Biefeld said.

Biefeld said his department received a call at 8:06 a.m. from the Jefferson County dispatch center of black smoke and flames showing from a barn at N8350 High Road, which sits on a section of Alta International Complex marked as a “Biosecure Area.”

A passerby witnessed the fire and stopped to notify the property owners, who called the Jefferson County dispatch center.

Biefeld said the first arriving fire units immediately called for mutual aid from surrounding departments, bringing in additional fire crews, EMS units and command staff. He said extra personnel was needed because the barn was used to store hay for feed, but once it caught fire, an excavator needed to be called in to move the hay for firefighters to check for any hotspots.

He said there were no occupants or animals inside of the barn at the time of the fire. No firefighters or civilians sustained any injuries.

Biefeld said the fire remains under investigation and the cause of it has yet to be determined. He said fire damage estimates are about $200,000 on the structure and an additional $76,000 for the barn’s contents.

Fire crews were still on scene until 4 p.m.

The Watertown Fire Department was assisted on the scene by Waterloo, Sullivan, Lake Mills, Clyman, Johnson Creek and Ixonia fire departments as well as Jefferson EMS. Western Lakes, Reeseville and Lebanon also provided coverage at the station during this incident. The Watertown Police Department was on scene to help with traffic control and firefighting efforts.

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