PEI

Winter straw supply lost in fire

A P.E.I. farmer believes it could be a struggle to find bedding for his cattle this winter after a barn fire Friday morning.
Clow barely had time to rescue a three-day-old calf from the barn. (Sara Fraser/CBC)

A P.E.I. farmer believes it could be a struggle to find bedding for his cattle this winter after a barn fire Friday morning.

Firefighters were called to Cassialane Holsteins in Freetown just after 8:45 a.m. when farmer Derwin Clow noticed smoke coming from one of his barns.

Clow had just enough time to rescue a three-day-old calf from the barn before it was engulfed in flames. The barn was metal – 32 by 13 metres – and filled with hundreds of large round bales of straw. It was Clow's supply for the winter of bedding for his 50 dairy cows.

The smoke could be seen from miles away.

New London, Kensington and Kinkora departments all responded. Provincial Fire Marshal Dave Rossiter said he believes the cause may be electrical, but because of the extensive damage to the building he may never know for sure.

Rossiter said the effect of fire inside a steel building is "like a convection oven." There's nowhere for the fire to vent, so it just consumes everything inside.

Firefighters pulled apart what's left of the barn with heavy equipment so they could put out the burning straw.

Clow said the building and the straw are worth about $120,000, but he has insurance. The most difficult problem he is now facing is how to replace the straw. He said most farmers only harvest enough straw for their own use.

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