A devastating accidental barn fire that occurred on a Saturday afternoon caused the tragic loss of over 200 cattle in a rural community situated near Arthur, as confirmed by the Wellington North Fire Service (WNFS). The sudden blaze was met with a swift response from multiple firefighting stations, with the call coming in around 3:30 p.m.
Approximately 60 firefighters from a total of eight fire stations quickly raced to the scene. Stations hailing from Arthur, Mt. Forest, Clifford, Harriston, Palmerston, Shelburne, Dundalk, and Grand Valley provided their much-needed assistance. Upon reaching the site, plumes of heavy smoke and raging flames visible from the second floor of the barn greeted the fire professionals. The structure in question was a beef barn, home to nearly 300 cattle.
Unfortunately, the barn did not withstand the voracity of the fire and promptly collapsed. The estimated losses incurred in response to this sudden incident fall between a hefty $2 and $3 million.
The root cause of the conflagration was determined to be an accidental ignition within a heap of hay stored within the barn, as stated by WNFS. It is this unfortunate occurrence that is responsible for the estimated financial damage exceeding a couple of million dollars.
On that fateful Saturday, Chris Harrow, the fire services director for Wellington North and Minto, speculated that the count of fatal casualties among the cattle could well exceed 100. He credited the neighbours for their heroic efforts that resulted in many cattle being safely evacuated.
Recounting the incident, Harrow said, “Our initial intelligence came in the form of reports of smoke and potential flames emanating from a barn. Upon arrival, our Mount Forest crew was met with an overwhelming cloud of smoke originating from the barn and were soon greeted by massive flames breaking through the roof.”
Shockingly, within a mere ten minutes from their arrival on-site, the barn began to give way, with one corner collapsing. Not long after, the entire structure succumbed to the aggressive fire, marking the end of this tragic event.