About 10 prize trophy saddles were destroyed in a fire at the Robert Steele ranch in Alamo June 27.
The fire completely destroyed a 14×20 storage and farm repair shed on the property about 1:30 in the afternoon. The cause is suspected to have been one or two pigeons that were electrocuted on overhead power lines and the sparks fell into dry grass around the shed.
The Steele’s daughter, Lacey, was home at the time and was notified of the fire by power company employees who were reading meters nearby, saw the smoke and flames, and rushed over to tell her what was happening and made a 911 call.
Sherrie Steele said the shed was “a working garage that we also use for storage,” containing tools, carts, baling twine, seven chainsaws, a generator, two water pumps, a compressor, a motorcycle, a number of tires and other farm repair items, as well as the trophy saddles the Steele’s and their children won in many of their rodeo competitions over the years, including a few Sherri had won in her own rodeo days. “The sentimental value is gone, but it’s okay, grateful that nobody was hurt,” she said.
The shed was about 75 yards away from the family home and as the wind was not blowing that direction, the house was not threatened. Although Sherrie said, “With the wind blowing, we did have a few spot fires in the nearby corrals which the firemen took care of.”
Lacey Steele said she heard what sounded like a sonic boom “followed by what sounded like gunshots were going off.” Those were likely cans of material that were exploding inside the shed.
The Pahranagat Valley Volunteer Fire Department responded quickly with 10 volunteers, two suppression units, squad 81, engine 84, the EMS Rehab unit, and Christian Enterprises supplied a water tanker.
However, the shed was nearly fully involved when they arrived and nothing could be done. “When I looked out the door,” Lacey said, “I could see the top of the roof and that was about all, and it didn’t take much longer for it to fall. The dark smoke was even obscuring the trees.”
Robert Steele estimated the loss of the contents to be $40,000 to $50,000. “All of my farming stuff was in there, including a full palate of baling twine.”
The Steele’s wish to thank all the volunteer fire department personnel and others for responding so quickly, “because it could have spread and they kept it from doing that, and the power company put in a lot of extra overtime replacing the burned out pole so we were not without power overnight.”