Cows per­ish in barn fire

The Glengarry News - - Front Page - BY SCOTT CARMICHAEL News Staff

The Sturken­boom Dairy Farm near St. Raphael’s was struck Satur­day night by a dev­as­tat­ing fire that killed 152 of the fam­ily’s 173 head of cat­tle.

Dale Sturken­boom, who along with his brother, Dean, and fa­ther, Ger­rit, run the op­er­a­tion lo­cated on SDG Road 18, told The News that the blaze started at around 8:45 p.m. Satur­day and burned through­out the night. No­body was in­jured.

“The fire trucks were here un­til noon the next day,” said Mr. Sturken­boom.

The barn rep­re­sented one of Glen­garry’s most well-known and suc­cess­ful agri­cul­tural busi­nesses, with roots stretch­ing back six decades. “We were just get­ting home from supper on Satur­day night, when it was start­ing,” he re­called. “I just parked the car and ran in and started push­ing the cat­tle out.” Mr. Sturken­boom was “re­ally im­pressed” with how quickly mem­bers of the South Glen­garry Fire Depart­ment ar­rived on the scene, as well as the as­sis­tance he re­ceived from mem­bers of the com­mu­nity.

“I can’t be­lieve the help we had from our neigh­bour­ing farm­ers. Ev­ery­thing was taken care of. They were on the phone right away, plac­ing the cat­tle. It was re­ally im­pres­sive.”

When he spoke to The News Mon­day morn­ing, Mr. Sturken­boom ex­plained the in­sur­ance ad­jus­tors were still ex­am­in­ing the scene of the fire, so an dam­age es­ti­mate wasn’t avail­able yet.

How­ever, he said it will be dif­fi­cult and costly to re­place the lost cows. “Cat­tle prices are sky­rock­et­ing. It’s al­most im­pos­si­ble now to buy a cow to put in your herd,” said Mr. Sturken­boom.

“There’s a de­mand for milk and ev­ery­body’s hang­ing on to their cows. Even if we do re­build, it’s go­ing to be a job just to put de­cent cat­tle back in the barn. It’s hard to re­place so many cows, and the ge­net­ics we had... It’s a 10-year job, at least, to get that built back up... es­pe­cially now, since they’re hard to buy,” he added.

Mr. Sturken­boom said a good milk­ing cow cur­rently goes for be­tween $3,000 and $4,000.

The Sturken­boom farm was orig­i­nally pur­chased by Dale’s grand­par­ents, Wil­liam and Petronella ( née van Wijk) Sturken­boom, from St. Raphael’s res­i­dent John D. McRae.

They took own­er­ship of the prop­erty in April 1952 af­ter ar­riv­ing from Hol­land.

Ger­rit Sturken­boom bought the farm from Wil­liam (his fa­ther) in 1963, and re­placed the orig­i­nal barn in 1984. An ad­di­tion was com­pleted in 2001.

“We’re not re­ally sure what we’re go­ing to do yet,” Dale said. “We’ll deal with it and do what we have to do.”

South Glen­garry Fire Chief Vic Ler­oux, who re­lated that the fire took about 12 hours to knock down, con­firmed that in­sur­ance ad­jus­tors will be in­ves­ti­gat­ing the cause and ori­gin of the fire, and that the town­ship depart­ment will be as­sist­ing in that in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The On­tario Fire Mar­shal’s of­fice is also in­ves­ti­gat­ing.

About 55 of the town­ship’s 125 fire­fight­ers, from the Glen Wal­ter, Lan­caster, Mart­in­town, North Lan­caster and Wil­liamstown sta­tions, fought the inferno. “Three gen­er­a­tions had worked that farm and it was a big op­er­a­tion,” added Chief Ler­oux. “So it was a pretty sad day for the fam­ily and the com­mu­nity.”

SCOTT CARMICHAEL PHOTO

HUGE LOSS: No­body was in­jured but about 150 head of cat­tle per­ished in a Satur­day evening fire that de­stroyed a barn on the Sturken­boom farm near St. Raphael's.

SCOTT CARMICHAEL PHOTO

AF­TER­MATH: In­ves­ti­ga­tors are try­ing to de­ter­mine the cause of a fire that de­stroyed a barn and al­most wiped out a dairy herd Satur­day night.

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