Damage is estimated at approximately $5 million after a massive fire at a hay plant east of Lethbridge Wednesday evening.
The fire broke out shortly after 7 p.m. in a 58,000-square-foot warehouse at Green Prairie International.
Firefighters from Lethbridge and Coaldale responded, as well as RCMP and Lethbridge police.
Thick black smoke billowed from the fire for several hours Wednesday evening and could be seen from as far away as Magrath.
Gerrit Sinke, the deputy fire chief of the Lethbridge Fire Department, said crews were working to contain and observe the fire into Friday.
“The key focus was not to save the building (but) to make sure that the rest of the property was safe,” he explained.
He said there are several reasons the fire is still burning and will likely continue to burn for several days.
“First of all, hay is very difficult to put out,” Sinke said.
“Secondly, if all we do is just put out the hay, you’re dealing with a huge pile of garbage really, so right now, we’re monitoring it, we’re making sure the area is safe, but we’re also allowing it to burn in a safe manner.”
John Van Hierden, CEO and president of Green Prairie, said he wasn’t at work when the fire started.
“I was just on the way to a graduation ceremony. I was just a half-mile down the road,” said Van Hierden.
“By the time we drove by, the building basically exploded.”
Nobody was hurt, and Van Hierden is glad the situation wasn’t worse. He said the company plans to rebuild the warehouse in due time.
“We’re already looking at plans, looking at ideas, looking at how we’re going to do it, and safety first, of course,” he said.
“(We’re) just basically focused on moving forward.”
The cause of the blaze has not yet been determined.