Large fire destroys Abbotsford barn housing cows; one cow dead

The founder of a family-owned dairy farm in Abbotsford is vowing to rebuild after a massive fire destroyed one of their barns, threatening the lives of hundreds of cattle and killing one.

The blaze broke out on an organic dairy operation near No. 2 Road and Tolmie Road at around 6:30 a.m. Sunday.  Firefighters arrived to find the barn and a nearby machine shed fully engulfed in flames.

It was a chaotic scene as approximately 400 animals tried to flee for safety.

“It’s about a 200 by 200 building that had flames coming from all corners of it,” said Asst. Chief Ron Hull of the City of Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service.

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“It’s a total loss for the barns,” he added. “The barn was full of cattle.”

Tony Vanderwal founded the certified organic dairy farm in 1960. His children now run the operation.

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He says the loss of the barn–which was only built a few years ago–is devastating.

“Terrible. Just terrible,” he said.

Vanderwal estimates the building was worth over $1 Million. However, he and his family are vowing to rebuild.

“We’re gonna rebuild it. Hope to have it back up in 6 months, 8 months.”

Firefighters say just one cow died in the blaze, thanks in large part to the help of neighbouring farmers, who helped evacuate the barn once the fire broke out.

The farm’s owners say they have moved the cattle to another farm.

Fire crews will remain at the scene for most of the the day tending to hot spots. The cause of the blaze is under investigation.

Abbotsford Police Cst. Paul Walker thanked the public for helping first responders.

– With files from Nadia Stewart

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