Maquoketa firefighters work

Maquoketa firefighters work to extenguish the blaze at Ron Felton’s property on Highway 64 east of Maquoketa. With a “100 percent” ice-covrered lane, getting the firetrucks in place added some difficulty for the volunteers. The shed contained machinery as well as a considerable amount of ground hay.

Two Maquoketa-area machine sheds burned to the ground Friday as area firefighters struggled to respond to both at once. 

Firefighters had already put on chains — automatically and manually — and made it down a “100 percent” ice-covered lane at 25745 Highway 64 to fight a “fully involved” fire at a machine shed when they saw the smoke from the second machine shed fire on 69th Street near Caves Road. Delmar, already on scene, responded to that fire from the other side of Maquoketa. Maquoketa, Andrew, Baldwin and Bernard also responded.

No animals died. 

In the first fire, shed owner Ron Felton lost a full line of machinery along with a considerable amount of ground hay, said Maquoketa Fire Chief Matt Tranel. Brandenburg Drainage brought an excavator to help spread the hay to extinguish the fire. 

The excavator had just arrived on scene when firefighters got called to the second fire, shortly before 2 p.m., at Joe Heinrich’s HEI View Farms. The farm lost two pick-ups, an ATV, and tools in the blaze.

Ice and cold continued to challenge firefighters, with some equipment freezing up, Tranel said.

A diesel truck had been plugged in help the vehicle start and is where the Caves Road fire began, according to fire officials.

The cause of the first fire is unknown.

Maquoketa, Preston and Delmar responded to the Highway 64 fire, as well as Miles, which had been responding with Preston to a mutual aid call for a school alarm that had been going off.

Tranel said Maquoketa firefighters haven’t faced two structure fires at the same time in at least 30 years of department history.

Later Friday, firefighters also responded to a sprinkler head that froze and began spraying in the entrance of Wal-Mart in Maquoketa.