Fire in Monck no longer considered suspicious; Damage estimated at $3.5M

The large fire that destroyed a hay barn in Monck is no longer being treated as suspicious.

Fire Chief Dave Guilbault said in an interview that he has an idea of what caused the Nov. 14 blaze, but is waiting until a report from the Fire Marshal’s office for confirmation. Guilbault is calling it accidental.

The fire destroyed an enormous hay barn, filled with 640 acres of hay. Damage is now estimated at $3.5 million.

Firefighters spent three days and used over 350,000 gallons of water to put out the fire, explained Guilbault.

He said the fire department used a water and sand combination to take away the oxygen and heat to smother the fire, because the removal of hay was causing large flare-ups.

Guilbault said he has not “seen anything like this” in his 45-year career.

“We have a steel structure here that’s fallen on top of the hay and obviously the steel doesn’t burn,” he said.

“With a 200-foot building with that amount of fire load, this isn’t just your normal barn fire.”

Guilbault said the fire department used a drone borrowed from Centre Wellington Fire Department to get aerial footage.

“The drone’s … been valuable to us because we would have never gotten that burn pattern obviously from the ground,” he said.

He explained the burn patterns can show where the fire started and how it travelled.

Volunteer fire fighters were thanked for their services at the Nov. 21 council meeting. Their efforts equaled about 48 hours spent fighting the blaze, explained CAO Mike Givens.

“I think it’s important for us to recognize the dedication and good service of our volunteer (firefighters),” said Mayor Andy Lennox.

Council also thanked the other departments and H. Bye construction for their assistance.

Guilbault said he “can’t say enough about the community coming out to help.”

Ernie’s restaurant donated pizza and other community members made chili and sandwiches.

One homeowner let the fire department use water from his pond.

“We’re very fortunate to have so many dedicated people willing to step up to the challenge,” said Lennox.