PEI

The morning after a devastating fire, farmer started rebuilding

A barn full of tractors and specialized equipment went up in smoke on Barry Clohossey's farm in western P.E.I. Monday night, so he got up Tuesday morning and started on what he needed to do to rebuild.

Insufficient insurance is just part of the problem Barry Clohossey now faces

A barn full of tractors and specialized equipment went up in smoke on Barry Clohossey's farm in western P.E.I. Monday night. (Courtesy of Barry Clohossey)

A barn full of tractors and specialized equipment went up in smoke on Barry Clohossey's farm in western P.E.I. Monday night, so he got up Tuesday morning and started on what he needed to do to rebuild.

Clohossey and his wife had already gone to bed when at about 11 p.m. a neighbour started banging on their door, shouting that one of their barns was on fire. The barn was already fully engulfed when they called the fire department.

Barry Clohossey says the barn took just 25 to 30 minutes to burn. (Courtesy of Barry Clohossey)

"In approximately 25 minutes to 30 minutes it was down on the ground flat," said Clohossey.

"It burned that fast. It was a very hot, intense fire."

The fire marshal told Clohossey the destruction was so complete they will not be able to determine a cause.

Total loss

Insurance won't replace the barn or the equipment that burned inside it, says Barry Clohossey. (Courtesy of Barry Clohossey)

The Clohosseys grow potatoes, strawberries, and a mix of vegetables. The barn was used to store tractors and equipment for the vegetable operation.

What remains of it is being hauled off to the landfill.

The loss is not just financial. The vegetable equipment in particular — planters, weeders, cultivators — was highly specialized, and purchased out of province.

Barry Clohessey started cleaning up the site on Tuesday morning. (Courtesy of Barry Clohossey)

"Most of it when it was brought home … it was modified, remodelled, to suit our needs. So not only buying that equipment, there was a lot of work to it afterward," said Clohossey.

"We've been working the last couple of days to track down this equipment and it's not easy to find."

A busy spring

Clohossey had insurance, but it won't cover the full financial cost of the loss.

The barn was used to store tractors and equipment for the vegetable operation. (Courtesy of Barry Clohossey)

Perhaps more importantly, it will not cover the time required to source and customize the equipment he needs. Equipment they gathered over 20 years will have to be replaced in a matter of weeks, starting with seed trays to get the vegetables started in the greenhouse within the next couple of weeks.

Despite the challenges, Clohossey is moving forward.

"It'll be a little bit busier spring," he said.

"We were in the rebuilding stage yesterday morning, as of when we got up."

Last year's produce was in another barn and was not affected, said Clohossey, and they will continue to supply their customers, including being back at the farmers' market in Summerside on Saturday morning.

With files from Malcolm Campbell