New Brunswick

Cows euthanized after barn fire near Sussex

An unknown number of cows were euthanized following a barn fire that broke out on Wednesday evening near Sussex.

Fire started while workers were in nearby hayfields

Cleanup continues after a Wednesday evening fire in Wards Creek near Sussex. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

An unknown number of cows were euthanized following a barn fire that broke out on Wednesday evening on Marshall Hill Road in Wards Creek near Sussex.

Frank Friars, owner of the farm, says he isn't sure how many cows he lost but adds there were 150 in the barn.

"One of the workers arrived to feed cattle around 4:30 and there didn't seem to be any fire when he entered the barn, but within a few minutes the barn was on fire," he said. "He tried to get cattle out ... it was only just moment until the whole thing was engulfed in flames."

"I wasn't here, but all reports it was just like you poured gasoline on it. It was just, the fire just shot through the whole barn and within moments it was engulfed."

Friars said very few of the cows got out of the barn and some of his workers received minor burns when trying to get them out.

"The vet had to put some [cattle] down last night. There's still some missing and there's still some inside."

Friars said the barn was built almost three years ago.

"We spent two winters in it, we updated it to all the new technology. We had a calf, automatic calf-feeding system and it was designed to be universal to raise dairy heifers or beef feeders."

"It was kind of a universal barn. We've put over a half a million dollars in the operation here within the last three years."

Friar said he will be working with the insurance company and doesn't have many details on it.

"Well, I built this operation for my son and we have to look at rebuilding ... it's pretty upsetting. It's a lot of things to think about and consider. We'll just day by day, I guess."

Sussex Fire Department Fire chief Harold Lowe said when the call came in the mutual aid agreements with outlying areas were activated and tankers from Hammond-Jeffries, Penobsquis, and Norton assisted.

"The barn was fully involved by the time we got here, so it was just to knock it down and try to do the best we could from there."

Asked if knowing there were animals inside the barn changed the way the fire was fought, Lowe said it didn't.

"The roof of the barn itself came down really quick and whatever was inside the barn was inside the barn. So, we did the best we could outside here try to knock everything down."

The fire department was still on scene Thursday dousing flare-ups and bales of hay that were smouldering. "We can't get at them unless we get some heavy equipment in there and we're waiting for some people to come down to investigate it."

Lowe said the fire marshal has been notified of the fire.

With files from Matthew Bingley