January 22, 2020

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Firefighters from six communities battle Manitoba dairy barn fire

The aftermath of a dairy farm fire is shown northeast of Steinbach, Man. on Monday, Aug.12, 2019 in a handout photo. An early morning fire has destroyed a four-barn dairy complex. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Steinbachonline MANDATORY CREDIT

The aftermath of a dairy farm fire is shown northeast of Steinbach, Man. on Monday, Aug.12, 2019 in a handout photo. An early morning fire has destroyed a four-barn dairy complex. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Steinbachonline MANDATORY CREDIT

STEINBACH — Hundreds of cattle have been killed in a fire that destroyed a large dairy complex in southeastern Manitoba.

The fire broke out sometime before 5 a.m. Monday at the six-barn Pennwood Dairy, northeast of Steinbach. Four of the six barns were destroyed in the fire. Kelvin Toews, the community’s fire chief, said there were about 1,000 animals in the barns and about 200 survived.

"It’s a loss of around 800 (cattle). It’s a shame there were animals in the barn. We lost a bunch," Toews said.

The fire chief said three barns were on fire when crews arrived and the fourth was in flames soon after. An issue, Toews said, was water supply.

The farm, located east of Highway 12 near Giroux, has no fire hydrants for crews to draw water from.

For a fire as big as this one, fire crews were ferrying tankers back and forth to fight the flames.

"You just need a lot of water to fight that," Toews said.

Toews said the cause of the fire is still being investigated by the Office of the Fire Commissioner.

He said an unknown number of people were involved in milking operations in the buildings at the time, but they all got out safely.

Crews from six fire departments fought for hours to control the flames that belched clouds of thick, black smoke across a wide area.

The fire is believed to have started in one of the four metal-clad buildings that were linked to each other.

A damage estimate was not immediately available.

Toews said emergency crews were expected to be at the scene most of the day for mop-up purposes.

"It’s a tin barn, so we have to peel it back and get to the fire. There’s some silage piles on fire, too."

The fire came as Pennwood Dairy was preparing to expand its herd to about 1,700 cattle. 

— The Canadian Press, with files from The Carillon

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History

Updated on Tuesday, August 13, 2019 at 9:25 AM CDT: Updated.

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