Baraboo restaurants burn over the weekend; fire at the Barn under investigation

December 24, 2018
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Baraboo Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Beckwith walks the perimeter as the Farm Kitchen Restaurant burns in the background Saturday morning. The adjacent property soon will be home to the Tumbled Rock Brewery, and fire crews used the closed restaurant to conduct a live training exercise.

For years, there were two restaurants with agricultural names — the Farm Kitchen and the Barn — along a stretch of road between the city of Baraboo and Devil’s Lake State Park.

Going into the weekend, the two sometimes-confused eateries remained standing. By Sunday morning, both had been destroyed by flames.

One fire was publicly planned. The Farm Kitchen had closed down and a new brewery is planned to go up on the adjacent land. Fire crews burned the longtime restaurant during a training exercise Saturday morning.

Little did firefighters know, they would be back in the same area the very next morning after to douse flames at the Barn Restaurant, located about a half-mile north of the Farm Kitchen on County Highway DL.

Baraboo Fire Chief Kevin Stieve said Sunday the fire at the Barn was under investigation, but provided no further details.

It appears there was suspicious activity at the restaurant the night before the fire occurred.

On Saturday morning —around the time that fire crews were intentionally burning the Farm Kitchen — Barn owner Amber Giddings posted on Facebook that someone had broken into her restaurant overnight.

Pictures showed a broken window and a small garbage can inside containing partially burned papers and hand towels. The latter image suggested an attempted arson.

Another photo showed an award the restaurant received during Circus World’s 2018 Circus of Chefs gala tipped over on a display table.

“If anyone hears anything please let me know,” Giddings posted Saturday morning on Facebook, along with a sad-faced emoji.

Less than 24 hours later, fire crews were outside the Barn spraying it with water as it smoldered. Giddings could not be reached for comment.

Sauk County Sheriff Chip Meister said in a news release that dispatchers were notified of the fire at 6:12 a.m. An officer who arrived on scene reported flames and smoke coming from the restaurant.

The Baraboo Fire Department requested assistance from outside agencies, and ultimately extinguished the blaze, the release said.

Meister said an investigation is underway by his office, the fire department, the Wisconsin Department of Justice, and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

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