Fire crews had a busy Canada Day as three departments responded to a barn fire near Oyster River.
The initial call came in to the Oyster River Fire Department at around 11:30 on July 1. Crews responded to a structure fire on Macaulay Road in Oyster River. When they arrived, three barns were already on fire, with a fourth in danger of catching.
“En route, dispatch told us that there’d been multiple calls, so we knew it was a big structure fire,” said Oyster River department chief Bruce Green. “Driving up the road to the fire we could see the big columns of smoke there. When the deputy chief got on scene, he quickly determined that the barns that were already involved, we weren’t going to be able to salvage them, so we were going to make a stand and save the last barn that was still standing.”
Campbell River and Courtenay fire departments were also called for mutual aid. The barns were far from any hydrant, and the two other departments brought tankers and engines to help support the Oyster River team. Even with the extra help, it was a long day for those on the scene.
“In total there were about 45 fire fighters on scene throughout the day, and we were there until 7 o’clock at night to put it out,” Green said.
Campbell River Fire Chief Thomas Doherty said that his crew was on scene until 5:30, and that they supplied one tanker truck and one engine.
“Our engine crew was assigned to assist in suppression efforts immediately when they arrived and our water tender shuttled water from a nearby hydrant to the scene,” he said.
No injuries to humans or animals were reported.
“Fortunately it was mainly a hay operation and there were only four cows that were close to the barns and they all got out fine,” Green said.
However, the hay inside the barns combined with the dry and windy conditions on July 1 caused the blaze to spread rapidly.
“It sounds like they were using a skid steer to put hay into the barn, and a bale that was already in there fell off and landed on the hot exhaust pipe of the skid steer,” Green explained. “Then there was wind that day going in the direction of the barns and they caused it to spread rapidly. And because the barns are old and there’s dust and stuff on the 2x4s… it’s an open structure right, and it just runs.”
RCMP were on scene as well helping direct traffic around the incident.