January 25, 2022

Fire destroys barn, antique items

When a fire took out a barn on the property of Bonnie and Roy Eilert late Tuesday afternoon, it might have taken out some pieces of history as well. The cause of a barn fire on the Eilert's property, on West 62nd Street North near Highway F48, west of Newton, was not immediately known.

But what is known is there were some items inside the barn that had been destroyed. The barn caught on fire around 5:40 p.m. Newton, Colfax and Baxter firefighters quickly got out to the property — located about five miles west of downtown Newton — and saved a shed, some vehicles and the main house, but couldn't save the barn, a camper or a small shed. No one was home when the fire started.

"There were some antique things in there," Bonnie Eilert said. "There was an antique sled, and some pieces that might have been from a Native American canoe, and lots of family things."

Bonnie Eilert said a representative of the TV show "American Pickers" had come out to the property Friday to examine items, and planned to return Wednesday. She said she might be as tearful when explaining what happened to them as when she was driven up to the house Tuesday by her daughter.

She had been visiting her husband, Roy, who lives at an assisted care facility, when the blaze broke out. When the Newton Daily News spoke with her, firefighters were still putting out hot spots, so she hadn't had a chance to see exactly what the ruined barn looked like.

"I cried and screamed the whole way up the street, once we could see the smoke," she said. "I'll probably cry like that again once I see how bad it is."

Newton Fire Chief Jerrod Wellik said Tuesday it wasn't apparent how the fire started. He said a couple of vehicles were inside the barn, including a tractor, which was destroyed. The firefighters were able to keep nearby vehicles and a shed from being destroyed, and there were some small fuel tanks near the barn that didn't appear to have ignited.

Alliant Energy was notified due to a power line being knocked down.

Bonnie and Roy Eilert have been married for more than 66 years, and have been active in several church and community organizations. Last year, Roy Eilert attended the 70th reunion of Newton High School's Class of 1944.

"I don't know how he'll handle this," Bonnie Eilert said.

Contact Jason W. Brooks at 641-792-3121 ext. 6532 or jbrooks @newtondailynews .com