Damage in southeast London, Ont. barn fire pegged at $2M

A grass and barn fire broke out Tuesday afternoon in the south end of London along Old Victoria Road. London Fire Department

Fire crews were still at the scene Wednesday of a major barn fire in southeast London that caused roughly $2 million worth of damage, but luckily no injuries to firefighters or to cattle, officials said.

Multiple 911 calls came in about a large barn and grass fire at London Dairy Farms, located on Old Victoria Road just south of Hwy. 401, around 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, officials said.

At the scene, firefighters were met with heavy flames and smoke, which would be seen across the city, including as far away as Hwy. 7 and Highbury Avenue, according to one 980 CFPL listener.

“There was one drive shed, it also held feed, and that building was destroyed. We were able to protect the barns with all the cows and the dairy operations, they were all protected,” said Kirk Loveland, platoon chief with the London Fire Department.

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“The concentration by the fire crews was to protect all the exposures, because that one building was basically going to be a write-off, so we went defensive on that and offensive on protecting everything else around it.”

It’s not clear how many cattle were on the property at the time of the blaze, but Loveland said he was told that roughly 2,700 cows can be at the operation at any given time. Additional tankers from nearby Central Elgin and Thames Centre departments were called in to assist.

Firefighters remained at the scene overnight dousing spot fires. As of early Wednesday afternoon, crews were working with backhoe operators to get at the seat of the fire, officials said.

“We’re continuing with overall operations, meaning we’re clearing debris to make sure we get all little hot spots, because the building collapsed in on itself,” said Loveland.

“For the most part, the fire is totally under control. It’s just now, because of the amount of damage and stuff, it’s just pulling apart some areas. Our resources are minimal there now, but we are still continuing operations of what we call overhauling the fire to get all of the spot fires.”

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Crews will remain on scene until all spot fires have been extinguished and there’s no possibility of a flareup. The fire itself is believed to be accidental, however an official cause remains under investigation.

Loveland said officials were looking at all possibilities, including that the fire may have been due to welding, as the farm’s owner told CBC London on Tuesday.

“That’s a possibility that we’re looking at. Again, we don’t have a definitive cause, but that certainly could be a possibility,” he said.

Global News reached out to London Dairy Farms for comment, but did not receive a response by publishing time.

Tuesday’s fire comes nearly nine years after another large fire tore through a building at London Dairy Farms.

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That blaze, which began around 9:30 p.m. on May 28, 2014, originated inside a hay storage warehouse on the property, 980 CFPL reported at the time.

As crews battled the flames, officials shut down a stretch of Hwy. 401 out of concern that a nearby communications tower and the heavy wires connected to it could collapse onto the highway.

Similarly to Tuesday’s fire, no injuries or deaths were reported, including to cattle, and damage was estimated at roughly $2 million.

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