Mu­tual aid fights fire

South-West Ox­ford, Till­son­burg, Nor­folk fire de­part­ments co­op­er­ate for kiln fire

The Delhi News-Record - - NEWS - CHRIS AB­BOTT

A large col­umn of black smoke west of Till­son­burg brought out mul­ti­ple fire de­part­ments Wed­nes­day morn­ing last week.

Till­son­burg Fire and Res­cue Ser­vices re­sponded to 911 calls re­port­ing a large fire on the west side of town around 10:30 a.m. in the vicin­ity of North Street and Quar­ter Town Line. The first pumper to ar­rive dis­cov­ered the fire on Brownsville Road, 1.2 km west of North Street in the Town­ship of South-West Ox­ford.

“The ini­tial call we got put the fire at the Broad­way and Devon­shire area,” said Till­son­burg Fire Chief Jeff Smith. “But our crews saw that it was fur­ther west and re­al­ized it was in the Town­ship of South­West Ox­ford.”

South-West Ox­ford Fire and Emer­gency Ser­vices was quickly no­ti­fied and two SWOX sta­tions re­sponded - Brownville and Mount El­gin.

“Ba­si­cally a prop­erty owner was burn­ing down an old kiln, and it was out­side of the rules of open air burn­ing... out­side the burn per­mit process,” said Jeff VanRy­broeck, Fire Chief of South-West Ox­ford. “It was a pur­pose- set fire, but there were shin­gles on the old kiln. Ba­si­cally, not al­lowed.”

Mul­ti­ple old stick kilns were lit at the same time, he said.

“We ex­tin­guished the fire be­cause it was out­side the rules of open air burn­ing. Be­cause of the shin­gles on the build­ings, it’s an en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sue. Within the rules of open air burn­ing, you can’t burn any pe­tro­leum prod­ucts. Shin­gles are a pe­tro­leum-based prod­uct, so that’s why you get that thick black, heavy smoke.

“Those old kilns have shin­gles on the walls, ba­si­cally sheets of shin­gle wrap, and then the roofs are shin­gled. Ba­si­cally it be­came an en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sue, that’s why we ex­tin­guished it.”

One build­ing, fairly close to one of the kilns, was sprayed as a pre­ven­ta­tive mea­sure.

“There was no real risk of it catch­ing fire, but it did heat up a lit­tle bit so we did put some wa­ter on.”

Wa­ter shut­tles were set up on North Street and Quar­ter Town Line to help re­fill tankers, and smoke was vis­i­ble across town.

“I heard you could see it as far away as Delhi,” said VanRy­broeck. “Ini­tially Till­son­burg was the first re­sponse be­cause the caller thought the fire was in the Till­son­burg area around the soc­cer park. With that thick, heavy black smoke, it stays low, so it’s pretty tough to give a pin­point lo­ca­tion.

“Once Till­son­burg ( Fire & Res­cue Ser­vices) found the lo­ca­tion, they no­ti­fied our dis­patch cen­tre, and our pro­to­col is that for any struc­ture fire we send two sta­tions, so Brownsville and Mount El­gin were paged out at the same time.

“We have a mu­tual aid agree­ment within the neigh­bor­ing de­part­ments. If Till­son­burg gets called, they’re go­ing to start work­ing it un­til we get on scene, and then to­day we needed ev­ery­body there so we kept them for quite a while. And we would do the same thing in Till­son­burg, if let’s say there was a call at the north end near Sobeys - we would go if they paged us ac­ci­den­tally... un­til Till­son­burg ar­rived, then they would take over and guide us that way.”

Fire­fight­ers from one of Nor­folk’s sta­tions (Delhi) re­ported to the Till­son­burg Fire Hall to be on call while Till­son­burg Fire and Res­cue Ser­vices was as­sist­ing SWOX.

“It’s be­ing good neigh­bours and it keeps ev­ery­body safe,” said VanRy­broeck.

Ox­ford County Para­medic Ser­vices and Ox­ford OPP at­tended in a sup­port­ive roll, and there were no in­juries re­ported.

“One prob­lem we did have is peo­ple go­ing around the ‘ road closed’ signs,” said Smith, “and in­ter­fer­ing with the fire de­part­ment op­er­a­tions. We heard ev­ery­thing - ‘well I live down there,’ or ‘I live on the other side of the fire and I need to get home.’ We did have quite a few prob­lems with traf­fic at this in­ci­dent.”

The area was cleared around 3 p. m. and Brownsville Road re-opened.

“At this time, the in­ci­dent is un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” said VanRy­broeck.


A large col­umn of black smoke west of Till­son­burg, where a prop­erty owner was burn­ing old kilns, could be seen as far away as Ot­ter­ville and Delhi to the east.


Fire­fight­ers from Till­son­burg as­sisted South-West Ox­ford Fire and Emer­gency Ser­vices Wed­nes­day last week at a mu­tual aid call to Brownsville Road, about 1.2 km west of North Street.

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