Hensall, Brockton, Listowel and Norwich farms experience February barn fires

2016′s series of winter barn fires continued through to the end of February, claiming the lives of nine more horses, 70 cattle and over 1,000 hogs.

The first and most deadly in the February barn fires occurred in the morning of Friday, Feb. 19 near Hensall. A fire at a barn on Fansville Line between Zurich and Hensall levelled a building and killed about 1,000 pigs, including 300 sows and 700 weaner pigs. The owner of the farm was treated for smoke inhalation.

On Wednesday evening, Feb. 24, 70 dairy cattle, including 50 cows and 20 calves, were lost in a barn fire north of Walkerton. Damage from the fire, including the lost livestock, the barn structure and farm equipment, was estimated at $500,000. Less than 24 hours later, about 300 young pigs were killed in a barn fire south of Listowel Thursday morning. The barn was not destroyed, but was heavily damaged.

Then, in Norwich Township early in the morning of Feb. 27, OPP and area fire departments responded to a fire at a barn that housed nine horses. The building was completely destroyed and all the horses died as a result of the fire. Though investigations were begun for each of the fires, none of the blazes appeared suspicious.

These were just the latest in a series of fires in southwestern Ontario since the beginning of January, including a stable fire near Guelph that claimed the lives of over 40 racehorses. Some claim there hasn’t been more barn fires than usual this year, they’re only being more widely reported, while others are saying this is the worst year for farm fires in memory.

A list of best practices from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs includes such recommendations as: having a qualified professional complete assessments of all farm buildings, having all electrical equipment inspected yearly by a licensed electrical contractor, including wiring, mechanical and heating systems, protecting heat lamps with non-combustible sheathing and keeping the area around the heat lamp clear of clutter, avoiding the storage of dangerous fuels and chemicals such as gasoline, cleaning fluids or solvents inside barns and making sure a reliable source of water is available and easily accessible for fire departments.

The Ontario Fire Marshal estimates that, between 2012 and 2014, barn fires have represented an average annual cost of more than $25 million in the province.

ALSO OF NOTE:

The London Farm Show at London’s Western Fair District concludes today. The event, which began Wednesday, features over 340 exhibitors in 275,000 square feet of show space, promoting the newest in agricultural technology. Admission is $16 at the door. Children 11 and under get in free. Today’s Farm Show hours are 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.