Multiple fire departments respond to Tuesday morning barn blaze

Firefighters arrived to find horse barn consumed by flames

EAST GARAFRAXA – Three fire services, including two from Wellington County, responded to a barn fire on the 12th Line here on Tuesday morning.

A property owner called 911 on April 11 at around 9:18am to report their barn, which houses seven horses, was on fire.

The multiple-alarm fire prompted responses from Station 50 and 10 in Erin and Hillsburgh with eight vehicles arriving shortly after 10:18am.

Prior to their arrival, the Grand Valley and District Fire Department, which shares emergency coverage of East Garafraxa, arrived on scene at 9:57am to find the entire barn consumed by flames.

The fire had also spread to an adjacent four acres of grassland.

Centre Wellington Fire and Rescue Services arrived around the same time as the Erin department with a bush pumper truck and a tanker of water.

According to Erin Fire Chief Jim Sawkins, the property owner was able to remove the horses from the barn prior to the arrival of firefighters.

With the fire raging, firefighters dumped water on the 83-year-old barn from the outside and attacked flames flashing across the dry field.

Sawkins said fields are especially dry this time of year as moisture has been pulled into the ground, leaving the surface material ripe for combustion.

He cautions anyone having outdoor fires to take extra precautions to avoid a disaster.

The barn fire was contained and under control at 10:53am, according to Sawkins.

Originally built in 1888 and rebuilt in 1940 after a tornado destroyed it, the building was reduced to charred remains on its foundation.

An excavator was reportedly still pulling at the rubble late in the afternoon on Tuesday as firefighters doused the remains to prevent flareups.

The chief revisited the scene on Wednesday morning to investigate the cause of the fire, but told the Advertiser it’s likely to remain undetermined.

Sawkins said the fire isn’t suspicious, and from his preliminary investigation and conversation with the property owner, he believes a tractor was the source of the blaze.

An off-road vehicle and a tanker with a four-member crew remained on scene into the day, keeping watch for flareups, and cleared the scene at 6:45pm.