MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

April 11, 2009

Muskogee Stockyards burn

About 30 head of cattle die in early morning blaze

The cattle pens at the Muskogee Stockyards and Livestock Auction Inc., 1701 Beacon St., were piles of scorched and bent galvanized metal after a fire about 4 a.m. Saturday.

The stockyards building, with the auction ring, cafe and upstairs offices, was still standing but was heavily damaged by smoke and water.

About 30 head of cattle being held for Monday’s auction were killed in the blaze that swept through the facility, said Assistant Fire Chief Dean Busch.

The fire was reported at 3:59 a.m., Busch said. There were four fire department pumper trucks, two ladder units and a rescue unit responding. The fire hydrant closest to the stockyards wasn’t working and firefighters had to lay hose to Old Shawnee Road, which is several blocks away.

Damage was estimated at $350,000.

Irvin Miller of Chouteau, who has owned the stockyards since July 2001, said he was sound asleep when the Muskogee Police Dispatcher called him shortly after 4 a.m.

“She said ‘Irvin, the stockyards is on fire,’” Miller said.

The police department occasionally calls him in the middle of the night to report cattle being out or to ask him to pick up large animals for keeping. He said he hadn’t grasped what she said.

“‘The sale barn is on fire,’” he said the dispatcher repeated.

It sank in.

He jumped in his truck, went by and picked up his neighbor and raced toward Muskogee, Miller said.

They couldn’t see the flames until they turned off Shawnee Bypass about 40 minutes later. The fire was still burning at both ends of what had been covered cattle pens.

“We’re going to rebuild,” Miller said. “I’m going to build another sale barn back. When I build it back, it will be better and stronger than it was. I’ve got good help helping me.”

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