LONDON, ONT. -- A suspicious barn fire that sent flames shooting skyward Wednesday evening, was witnessed by many neighbours who are now lamenting the building's loss. 

The barn, just off Fanshawe Park Road near Highbury Avenue, sits within metres of new housing development.

“We see it all the time. We admire it because it’s an old structure it must be a lot of history to it,” says Steven Hodgins, who lives near the scene.

He was among many residents taking pictures of the aftermath, the morning after others snapped pictures and recorded video of the raging flames and billowing smoke.

The fire began shortly after 7 p.m.

For one woman, whose home backs onto the barn, it was also frightening.

Declining to give her name, she told a CTV News camera she worried flames would spread to her residence, “It was seven feet taller than the trees. It was high!”

London police are now investigating the fire, which they’ve deemed suspicious. Forensic officers arrived on scene around 10:30 a.m. Thursday.

Barn fire in London

The vintage barn is part of a property that was owned by a couple for fifty years.

Speaking off camera, a woman who identified herself as the former property owner, says the barn once housed horse stables and was part of a farm of over 40 hectares (100 acres). 

She stated all it was sold off in parcels for residential and commercial development.

Ironically, the barn and the house in front of it, were the last section to be sold. The property has already been transferred to a developer and the couple will move later this year.

A sign out front of the barn property shows a planning application has been filed to build a six-storey apartment unit and 10 townhomes on the site. 

Still, even knowing the barn was likely soon to disappear, is  upsetting for Jack Thuss, a child in the neighbourhood. 

He says his family enjoyed seeing it each day, but he didn’t like seeing it go on Wednesday, “I saw smoke coming out of the trees."

His mother, Shawna Thuss, concurs with her son, adding the site has a special place in the family’s heart.

“We ride by here all the time. This is what we see every day. We’ve taken pictures here before. We hear how far back the history goes with this place."

So while everyone accepts the city has fully caught up with the country now, many had hoped the old barn would meet a gentler end.

“What a shame to see it go this way,” Shawna concludes.

There were no reported injuries as a result of the fire.