Fire officials, friends and family arrived to Sunnyview Dairy Farm last May to help pick up the pieces in the Town of Wheatland (Jason Arndt/The Report).

Sunnyview Dairy Farm, owned by the same family since 1908, was ravaged by a four-alarm blaze that caused extensive damage to the property at 4602 Highway 83 in the Town of Wheatland.

The May 1 blaze, according to a family spokeswoman, left the family terrified and overwhelmed.

“It is all overwhelming to be quite honest. This is every dairy farmer’s worst nightmare,” said Rachael Crane.

Crane is the sister of Ben Herda, who is the fourth-generation owner of the farm.

The livestock on the farm, however, were unharmed.

The overwhelming experience started when the fire broke out before 10:30 a.m. Fanned by dry, windy conditions the fire, which started near a silo, spread to other structures on the farm.

“It actually jumped the highway and started a neighbor’s field on fire,” Crane said. “It was very scary, but kudos to the fire departments here working their butts off.

“The fire departments were great in putting those fires out.”

Because the milking barn was destroyed, area farmers arrived and transported the cows to MJ Dairy Farms.

Herda’s Sunnyview Dairy Farm, the site of the 2015 Kenosha County Dairy Breakfast, also saw four of its six silos destroyed along with a barn designated for the sheep.

The community, meanwhile, overwhelming supported the Herdas through fundraisers, including some spearheaded by Kenosha County 4-H groups.

One of the fundraisers was held at Westosha Central High School, where hundreds showed up for a spaghetti dinner, with all proceeds benefiting the family.

The farming community also offered a helping hand, delivering needed supplies to the family while the property was being cleaned up.

Ben Herda, four days after the blaze, said the support lifted his spirits.

“I can at least smile today, because there are a lot of people here doing more than they need to,” Herda said. “It is greatly appreciated. I don’t know how else to explain it.”

 
 

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