Firefighters in Central Lambton are steeling for the worst after nine abandoned buildings were set on fire in the past few days.
Chiefs from Alvinston, Inwood, Watford, Oil Springs and Dawn-Euphemia as well as St. Clair Chief Walt Anderson met with officials from the Ontario Fire Marshal and the OPP Thursday afternoon after a night of chasing fires across the county.
And they’re making plans in case the fires continue.
The fires started March 17, when an abandoned farmhouse on Langbank Line in Dawn-Euphemia caught fire late in the afternoon. Sunday, a barn on Bentpath Line near Cairo, owned by Dawn-Euphemia Councillor Bill Bilton, was found in flames. Initally, officials thought it might have been struck by lightening but for now the cause is listed as unknown.
There were also two fires in abandoned buildings south of Florence in Chatham-Kent Sunday night.
Early Wednesday morning, Alvinston Firefighters went into Dawn-Euphemia on Aughrim Line just off Nauvoo Road to put out a fire at a wood-frame house that was engulfed in flames.
Dawn-Euphemia firefighters found a two-car garage which had burned without anyone notifying the authorities Wednesday.
Then Wednesday night and Thursday morning, firefighters in the region were kept busy by fires in four abandoned homes in Central Lambton.
Inwood Firefighters with the help of volunteers from Dawn-Euphemia put out a fire in an abandoned house on McAuslan Road.
And Alvinston fire crews handled three fires – one on Ebenezer Road near Lasalle and two on Old Walnut Road. The crew of 15 was first called out at 1:30 am to Ebenezer Road. Once back at the hall, they were called again to Old Walnut Road. The Chief, Ron McCabe and another firefighter noticed a glow in the air while they were on the scene and found another small shed engulfed in flames about a kilometre up the road.
McCabe says the fire marshal’s office reminded the department heads about protecting the scene and searching for evidence to help figure out who is setting fires. The chiefs have also committed to calling in the OPP immediately to help with each investigation.
He adds the fire departments will be taking an inventory of all the buildings on remote roads which are potential targets. McCabe wants residents to keep an eye out around their neighbourhoods for unfamiliar vehicles on the backroads. McCabe says they should take down license numbers and call police.
The fires have left the Central Lambton departments firefighters exhausted. McCabe says if more fires break out in the next few days, volunteers will go out in shifts – just enough to fight whatever they face – so there will always be some volunteers fresh to fight the next blaze.