Cause of $8 million chicken barn fire unknown

A driver captured smoke billowing from a chicken barn on Egremont Road in Warwick township Feb. 25.

Warwick’s fire chief says it is unlikely the cause of an $8 million chicken barn fire will ever be found.

Sunday afternoon, Warwick firefighters were called to the 8400 block of Egremont Road near Arkona Road after neighbours spotted thick black smoke coming from an large barn on the property.

Chief Brad Goodhill says about 45 firefighters from Watford, Adelaide-Metcalfe and Arkona battled the blaze for six hours.

Strong winds from the south fuelled the fire, sending thick black smoke into the air, putting other barns on the property at risk.

Goodhill says this year’s lack of snow helped as firefighters raced to keep the blaze from spreading. “Ground conditions are dry currently, so that allowed us to get around to this other, second barn. Had it been snow of a typical year or wet conditions, I don’t think we would have been able to save that second barn.

“We were extremely fortunate that we were able to keep it from reaching into another barn,” says Goodhill. “It was getting very close but we managed to get it shut down just prior to reaching into another barn.”

But still, the loss was great. Goodhill says the 80 foot by 440 foot barn was built to house as many as 45,000 birds. Sunday, there were 21,000 inside. The owners were in the middle of preparations to bring in another flock Wednesday.

Goodhill estimates the loss of livestock and the building to be between $7 million and $8 million.

And with the extent of the damage, a cause is unlikely to be found. “It will be undetermined because with the extent of the damage, there is no way to really trace it,” says Goodhill. “The insurance company is going to look at it themselves, in addition, but I’m not expecting them to come up with anything different than what we’ve found so far.”