Oxford County fire guts most of dairy barn
Published Tuesday, December 17, 2013 3:15PM EST
A farm family in Oxford County is surveying their losses after a massive blaze took out much of their dairy operation on Tuesday.
The early morning fire in Zorra Township marks the third major barn fire in the region in less than two weeks, and while most of the cattle were saved the property damage is substantial.
Fire crews were still hosing down piles of smouldering rubble late Tuesday morning with neighbours watching from the sidelines and helping to get cattle to safety.
The initial call came in at about 3 a.m. and at its peak there were crews from five area fire halls battling the massive blaze.
But Zorra Township Fire Chief John McFarlan says it could have been a lot worse.
"We were able to save one portion of the barn, the freestall and the milking parlour, but the other portions of the barn were lost."
McFarlan says the barn fire was fully involved when they arrived and it took several hours to put the fire down. A few calves perished, but most of the more than 100 dairy cattle were saved.
It follows another major barn fire near Mitchell on Monday in which dozens of animals were lost and a barn fire in Elgin County on December 7 that claimed more than 900 goats.
"Fortunately there wasn't a lot of wind so most of the heat and smoke was rising straight up. We did push our command to protect the structures immediately to the west side which includes the house and quickly knocked down the fire in that area," McFarlan adds.
The farm is owned by the Arts family and neighbour Clarence Markus knows exactly what they're going through. The Oxford farmer lost more than a hundred cattle himself in a barn fire this past summer.
"You're at ground zero and now you have to put Humpty Dumpty back together. As I spoke to these people this morning that's exactly what they're going to do. They see today as a day that yeah, nobody wants to go through this, but on the other hand you gotta go forward."
Officials couldn't put an official dollar value on the damage yet, but early estimates put it at several hundred thousand dollars, possibly close to $1 million.
The Ontario Fire Marshal's Office has been notified but will not be investigating because there were no injuries and the fire is not considered suspicious.