Nova Scotia

Dozens of cows saved from massive fire that destroys barn outside Truro

A fire tore through a barn just outside of Truro, N.S., Wednesday night, shutting down a road in the area. More than 60 milking cows were saved, but two died as a result of the fire.

More than 100 firefighters responded to the blaze

Firefighters were called to the scene at 5:47 p.m. on Wednesday. (Truro Colchester Code 1)

A fire tore through a feed barn just outside of Truro, N.S., Wednesday evening.

Firefighters were called to Loleaf Farm off Highway 311 in North River at 5:47 p.m. Chris Franklin, chief of the North River Fire Brigade, said the large metal barn was already ablaze when they arrived.

"The barn is an L-shape, the area is off to the left of the L, all that was left of the feed area was partial walls, and the ceiling, the roof was completely gone, so she was wide open, fully involved," said Franklin.

No one was injured in the fire. 

Almost all of the roughly 60 milking cows at the farm were saved, according to farm owner Donald Murray.

"We worked feverishly to get all the animals out," he said.

One cow died in a stall, and another had to be euthanized by a veterinarian due to injuries related to fire. Murray said three calves were also killed.

It took firefighters six and a half hours to put out the fire. (Truro Colchester Code 1.)

Most of the herd has been moved to another farm, Cobequid Holsteins, in nearby Masstown, said Murray. 

Along with the barn, he lost a tractor, mixer and some carts to the fire. Murray said he has no idea how the fire started. 

"We had just completed milking, the afternoon milking, approximately 10 minutes later the hay storage itself was totally encased in fire."

The fire was so intense more than 10 fire departments were called in to help fight it. More than 100 firefighters were needed to put out the blaze. 

One of the milking cows was killed in the blaze and another had to be euthanized because of injuries related to the fire. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Franklin said it was difficult to subdue the fire because of the barn's metal walls. 

"The steel won't allow you access to the fire," he said. "You have to remove the steel to get at the fire and the heat. A piece of equipment was brought in to remove debris and root through the straw, sawdust components of the feed shed area."

Once an excavator was brought in to tear through the barn's walls it was easier to douse the fire, said Franklin. 

It took fire crews six and a half hours to put out the blaze.  

The RCMP closed Highway 311 between Main Street and Stewart's Bridge for several hours while firefighters did their work. 

Donald Murray owns Loleaf Farm. His feed barn burned to the ground Wednesday night (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Part of the dairy barn was also damaged in the fire.  

Despite all the loss, Murray plans to rebuild and keep the farm running. For the foreseeable future, about 50 of his cows will be staying at Cobequid Holsteins.

"It's a no-brainer to do that, you just got to help the neighbours out and get the cows looked after," said farmer Brian Yuill, with Cobequid Holsteins. "The neighbours volunteered to get the trucks going and catch the cattle and get them trucked here. And we had the room."

The site of the barn fire on Thursday morning. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

That's good news, according to Lisa Patton, the municipal councillor for the district in Colchester County. Patton said too many farms in the area have shut down over the years.

"They are a staple of our community, this is one of the few dairy farms left in District 8," she said. "It's just heartbreaking for everyone to see a family go through this."

The cause of the fire isn't known. 

Fire investigators began their work this morning. 

Murray's cows have now settled in at Cobequid Holsteins. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)


With files from Paul Palmeter