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High winds lead to rural Sterling garage fire

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STERLING –High winds near a burn pile caused a rural garage to catch fire late Thursday night.

Rock Falls and Sterling fire departments responded at 9:05 p.m. to the fire about 4 1/2 miles southwest of Sterling at Gerken Farms, 11780 Matznick Rd., owned by Terry and Mary Gerken.

According to Sterling Fire Deputy Chief Michael Dettman, Mary was raking leaves near the east side of the 20-foot-by-35-foot garage.

“When the wind picked up, it spread to the garage,” Dettman said.

Wind gusts were as high as 30 miles per hour at the time of the fire.

According to Terry Gerken, whose family has lived on the property for about 35 years, contents in the garage included a motorcycle and various luggage. He was not home when the fire spread.

The Gerkens’ house on the property, about 20 feet from the garage, was undamaged. No one was hurt.

Firefighters remained on the scene for just over 2 hours. Dettman estimated the property loss was about $50,000.