Bill Wojciechowski, a member of the Sky Valley Stock & Antique Tractor Club, looks out over the rubble of the barn that caught fire early Saturday morning at the Sky Valley Stock and Antique Tractor Show grounds on Aug. 11 in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Bill Wojciechowski, a member of the Sky Valley Stock & Antique Tractor Club, looks out over the rubble of the barn that caught fire early Saturday morning at the Sky Valley Stock and Antique Tractor Show grounds on Aug. 11 in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Home saved in blaze that burned nearly century-old barn

The Frohning dairy farm opened in 1875. A tractor show scheduled the day of the fire was canceled.

MONROE — It’s always been there.

Sandi Frohning could see the barn from her childhood home. She grew up, married Tim Frohning, and moved to the farm. Their children grew up playing in the old wooden frame.

And now, it’s gone.

The barn on the Frohning dairy farm burned down the morning of Aug. 11. No one was hurt.

The Sky Valley Stock and Antique Tractor Club was supposed to have its 30th annual tractor show and threshing bee there that day. The event was canceled.

The Frohning family moved to the Tualco Valley near Monroe in 1865. They started the dairy farm on Tualco Loop Road about a decade later. The barn was built in the 1930s.

Sandi Frohning’s roots also go back in the area for generations. She went to Monroe High School and graduated in 1979.

Monroe firefighters walk around the site of the barn fire at the Sky Valley Stock and Antique Tractor Show grounds on Aug. 11 in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Monroe firefighters walk around the site of the barn fire at the Sky Valley Stock and Antique Tractor Show grounds on Aug. 11 in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

She and Tim Frohning got married about four years later, and moved onto the farm.

The couple had five sons. Matt Frohning, 33, is the oldest, and remembers playing in the barn as a child.

There was a concrete ramp leading up to its doors, and it would get icy in the winter.

“We would slide ourselves down on a tube before Dad could get there to pull us around,” he said.

Tim Frohning died about two years ago. He was 60.

Sandi Frohning, now 57, described her late husband as kind and patient.

Dennis Morehouse, left, Raelyn Engbaum, Jason Engbaum and Tiffanie Engbaum look at the rubble left from the barn that caught fire at the Sky Valley Stock and Antique Tractor Show grounds on Aug. 11 in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Dennis Morehouse, left, Raelyn Engbaum, Jason Engbaum and Tiffanie Engbaum look at the rubble left from the barn that caught fire at the Sky Valley Stock and Antique Tractor Show grounds on Aug. 11 in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

“My husband, he liked to laugh to say the least,” she said. “He’d work the kids hard, and then tease the bejeebers out of them.”

Matt Frohning was married at the end of July. After the wedding, he and his wife moved into his mom’s old house. Sandy Frohning is staying in a trailer nearby.

The day of the fire, she woke up around 5 a.m. She went outside to use the sink in the building where they milk the cows.

The barn was just across the field. In the distance she could see the flames coming from the roof.

She couldn’t find her phone fast enough. She ran into the main house to use the landline.

“Even though you’re moving at lightning speed, it feels slow,” she said.

A Monroe firefighter sprays water over the hotspots of the 100-year-old barn that caught fire at the Sky Valley Stock and Antique Tractor Show groundson Aug. 11 in Monroe.(Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

A Monroe firefighter sprays water over the hotspots of the 100-year-old barn that caught fire at the Sky Valley Stock and Antique Tractor Show groundson Aug. 11 in Monroe.(Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

She called 911, and then her brother and sister-in-law. They live in a house just yards from the barn.

The couple wasn’t answering. She got in her truck and drove down the road. She was relieved to see them as she pulled up.

Then, she heard sirens.

Firefighters were sent from District 7, Sultan, Lake Stevens and Duvall.

Crews showed up around 5:30 a.m., with four trucks specially built to carry large amounts of water. It took about 40 minutes to extinguish the fire.

Firefighters saved the house. A couple of windows shattered, and a plastic light cover on the carport melted. The yard is burned, and some trees are singed.

“We’re grateful. We’re really, really grateful,” Sandi Frohning said.

Ernie Odegaard, left, and Bill Wojciechowski carry small model tractors that were salvaged from the barn fire at the Sky Valley Stock and Antique Tractor Show grounds on Aug. 11 in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Ernie Odegaard, left, and Bill Wojciechowski carry small model tractors that were salvaged from the barn fire at the Sky Valley Stock and Antique Tractor Show grounds on Aug. 11 in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Mike Lang, 41, is president of the tractor club. After getting a call that morning, he headed toward the farm. He arrived around 6:30 a.m., and firefighters were still working.

“There was nothing but a pile of smoking metal they were hosing off,” he said.

About half an hour later, he announced in a post to the club’s Facebook page that the show had been canceled. It won’t be rescheduled, but he hopes they can put it on next year.

The club’s featured tractor, an Allis Chalmers model, was burned.

Its tires popped, and the battery was scorched, but it still runs.

The group has used the barn as storage and a meeting space for decades.

The barn which burned down Aug. 11 at the Frohning family farm is the large building behind the house shown here. (Sandi Frohning, family photo)

The barn which burned down Aug. 11 at the Frohning family farm is the large building behind the house shown here. (Sandi Frohning, family photo)

“It destroyed most of everything that kind of anchors the club,” member Martin “Marty” Korf said.

They’re trying to find a temporary place to go.

About 100 folks from all over Western Washington are in the club, which meets once a month. It’s a chance to talk about antique farming equipment. They also raise money for local organizations.

They bring displays to festivals each year, including the Evergreen State Fair in Monroe.

This year, the club plans to be there every day, from Thursday to Sept. 3. Kids can stop by to ride pedal tractors.

A couple of the toys were lost in the fire, but most equipment was cleared from the barn for the show, Lang said.

“If it had happened a week and a half earlier, we would have lost everything,” he said.

The Frohning family and tractor club members hope to build another similar space in the future.

“The overwhelming support we’ve seen in the community is that they want us to keep going,” Lang said.

Stephanie Davey: 425-339-3192; sdavey@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @stephrdavey.

How to help

Donations to the Sky Valley Antique Stock and Tractor Club can be made at any Coastal Community Bank location.

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