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The state fire marshal is investigating a fire on a central Nebraska farm that destroyed harvesting equipment, including a combine from which two pro-Trump flags were hung. The local volunteer fire department called the farmer on Thursday morning, October 15, with the bad news.
“Investigators will dictate whether it was arson or not. That’s not for me to judge,” fourth-generation farmer Rempel told The Fence Post website.
“The odds of someone finding the remote field where the equipment was parked, he said, were ‘about none,'” the York News-Times reported.
Rempel, on whose land the fire occurred in a harvested cornfield, similarly “declined to say if [the Trump banners were] a factor and declined to speculate whether the fire was intentionally set. ‘You tell me,’ he said of any political motivation, adding that he’s letting investigators determine what happened,” the Omaha World-Herald.
What perhaps makes the story even more curious is that the combine was reportedly parked about 80 feet away from the nearest truck, the trucks themselves were separated by about 45 feet, and the tractor was about 200 feet distant from any other harvesting equipment.
Rempel’s losses reportedly could amount to as high as $400,000, but farmers, some even from out of state, are pitching in with their own equipment to help him bring in the crop.
On Facebook, Rempel expressed his gratitude for the outpouring of support. “We are devastated and crushed by the enormous loss we face from this fire, but at the same time are incredibly blessed to be from rural America, where the people are the best. Both of our phones have blown up with a huge out-pouring of support from friends, family, business partners, and strangers. People offering their physical help, their operational help, and offers of food and meals in this time of tragedy.”
A GoFundMe page set up by Rempel’s sister Leah has already well exceeded its $50,000 goal, for rental equipment to complete the harvest and expenses left uncovered by insurance, thanks to more than 1,000-plus, so far, generous donors.
— Omaha World-Herald (@OWHnews) October 21, 2020
Leah provided some background on the incident. “[Jonathan] received a phone call from the Sutton volunteer fire department around 7AM saying that all of his harvest equipment was on fire. This included a combine and corn head, a tractor, and two semis. What makes this so unusual is the early morning timing and the fact that all of his equipment was parked away from each other.”
In an update, she wrote that the family is not privy to any of the details of the pending probe into the fire.
When contacted by local media, authorities had no comment at this time.
The incident came to the attention of Gov. Pete Ricketts who called for civility despite ideological differences and characterized politically-motivated vandalism in general as “anti-American.”
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