Two gutted buildings and piles of debris were all that was left of farm buildings on a Pitt Meadows dairy farm after the first of two devastating fires early Friday.
The fire at the Loveridge Farm in the 20100 block of Old Dewdney Trunk Road killed 18 calves, all under eight months old, and an estimated six more mature dairy cows.
Bill Loveridge said his son, who lives at the farm, called him just after midnight, at about 12:15 a.m. to tell him about the fire. It started in the one corner of a barn, near a grain bin.
“By the time I got down here, it was all engulfed, and it kept spreading to the next building over,” he said.
Neighbours helped herd the animals out of the large barn as the fire spread, until the heat became too intense to get near the buildings.
The two buildings were a complete loss, but the farmers managed to save most of their herd, that had totalled some 120 cows.
Loveridge was grateful to neighbours for taking the animals to their properties, and making sure they get milked.
“Insurance is here. We can rebuild,” said Loveridge. “We’re trying to find a temporary place to milk our cows. You can’t have the neighbours doing it all the time.”
He owns the family farm and operates it with his two sons, Patrick and Byron.
It was a huge fire, that turned the sky orange and could be seen by drivers crossing the Pitt River Bridge.
Acting fire chief Mike Larsson said when his crews arrived, the blaze was fully involved.
“Crews hit it hard, we had 17 members come on scene with us, and we got the upper hand on that, and around 5:30 a.m., it was pretty contained,” he said.
Temperatures were well below freezing, and firefighters had to cope with ice – firefighters had icicles hanging from their helmets.
As they got the first fire under control, a call came in about a second farm fire, at a property on Ford Road Detour. A warehouse caught fire, and spread to another adjoining warehouse building at the site.
Eight firefighters and two trucks were able to leave the original scene to attack the second blaze, said Larsson.
Firefighting efforts were hampered by live wires down on the ground, by ice on the ground, and plastic diesel containers inside that did not explode, but fed a huge blaze. Larsson said he was concerned about what other contents might be in the warehouses, and so they fought the blaze from distance..
That fire was brought under control, and entered the mop-up stage at approximately 10 a.m.
The causes of both fires is still under investigation.