A storage barn and two silos at Macdonald Campus were destroyed by a fire that started just before 6 a.m. Thursday morning. The cause of the fire is unknown and remains under investigation.
Employees and students performing morning chores in the cattle barn spotted the flames and shut the firewall doors separating the storage barn, filled with dry hay and feed, and the adjacent cattle barn housing 135 cows. The firewall, engineered to prevent fire from spreading between the two barns, successfully kept the cattle barn from burning.
Sixty firefighters and 12 fire trucks worked to put out the flames while staff and students led the cows to outdoor pens until the fire was under control. No people nor animals were injured, and the cows were returned to the barn later that day.
Chandra Madramootoo, dean of the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, said the faculty plans to make repairs to the buildings after the damage has been fully assessed.
“It will take several weeks to get an estimate of the extent of the damages, and [it] also takes time for the insurance adjustors to complete their work,” he said. “We have lots of cleaning up to do.”
According to Madramootoo, the incident will not affect students but will require modification to some research projects.
“There should be no effect on students [or] for professors who are doing research; we have already started to make adjustments,” he said. “The goal is to try and return to normal as quickly as possible, but it will be a slow process.”
In an email sent to staff and students, Principal Suzanne Fortier thanked those who contributed to the group effort that minimized damage.
“Our employees moved fast to keep the blaze from spreading and affecting livestock in the adjacent barn, and a group of about 20 students practicing nearby with the Macdonald Campus Woodsmen team came to offer help,” Fortier wrote. “Thank you to everyone who quickly responded to [the] serious fire.”