Fighting a terrible toll
Two fires — one in St. Thomas at a home where a man died, and another on a farm in Malahide , left, where a barn went up in flames at an estimated loss of up to $3 million, are being probed by investigators.
The hay harvest was in, the barn was filled. Then the fire hit. Investigators are probing a blaze that destroyed a barn in Malahide, in Elgin County, the loss estimated at up to $3 million. Firefighters from five municipalities were still at the scene early Friday, with crews expected to remain into Saturday, after the fire broke out the night before on Vienna Line in Malahide, consuming the barn filled with 4,000 hay bales from the harvest weeks earlier. “(The farmer) had just finished harvest two to three weeks ago, so it was filled literally right to the top,” said Randy Loewen, district chief of Malahide Station 2.
Losses from barn fires in Ontario average more than $25 million a year, figures from the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office show.
An Ontario group, the Barn Fire Risk Reduction advisory panel, made up of farm and fire organizations, including from Southwestern Ontario, is working to reduce the toll of barn fires in the province with a special awarness campaign focused on preventive measures, including keeping electrical systems — often the source of such fires — in top condition. Firefighters from Malahide, Bayham, Brownsville, Central Elgin and Southwold battled the blze.
“When we got here it was fully engulfed, front to back,” Loewen said. “We have no idea what started this. It’s under investigation and obviously it’s going to be a very tough investigation. (The) fire marshal has been called just because of the value of the content.”
The cause of many barn fires can be traced to deteriorated electrical systems, including corrosion of receptacles and plugs on equipment such as heat lamps and wall fans, the advisory group has found.
The farm owner declined comment.
There were 4,000 hay bales in a barn that caught fire late Thursday night as the farmer had finished his harvest just weeks before the blaze.