Langley Township Fire crews were called out to the 4100 block of 240th Street on Wednesday afternoon to battle a barn fire that also damaged an adjacent greenhouse.
The call came in just before 5 p.m.
Pat Walker, a Township assistant fire chief, said the crews were on scene so fast due to a coincidence.
“They were actually just coming down the road,” Walker said of the first truck on scene.
The truck had been out in Aldergrove dropping off supplies and was on scene within a four minutes. He noticed the fire as well.
“I was just going home at the time of the fire and noticed it in the air,” he said.
In all about 40 firefighters and 13 trucks were required.
“When they got there on scene, there was heavy flame and smoke showing from the front of the structure and one side,” Walker said.
The cause was likely a space heater.
“There was a radiant heater there that was chained to an overhead post to keep the sheep warm,” he said. “That’s the only thing they could see that could cause the problem. Perhaps the sheep kicked it or something and knocked it over.”
The fire started in the barn and the heat caused the fire to move to the greenhouse, which was damaged but saved.
“The barn is a write-off,” he said of the building the was made of wood with steel and wood beams, steel cladding and a steel roof.
The crews had to ferry water from a few kilometres away. The department was on scene until about 9:30 p.m. because the building lost some structural integrity and heavy equipment was ordered to allow them to get to any hot spots.
“We had to bring an excavator in,” he said.
The recent heavy snowfall and colder temperatures make firefighting more difficult.
“These are extreme conditions,” he explained. “We’ve got multiple things to deal with. Of course we’re spraying water, then we’ve got typical hypothermia conditions for our firefighters. [Some] have bunker gear on, there’s extreme heat, they’re pulling hoses, they’re working really hard [and getting overheated].”
Another weather-related fire
The Township fire crews were called out to a house fire on Feb. 9.
“We’ve actually had one up on 56th [Avenue] and 247th [Street] on Saturday. All reports or indications is that it’s heater related also,” Walker said.
The home ended up with about $240,000 in damage.
“The back deck of the house got burned off. The fire migrated up the side wall of the home and into the attic space,” he said.
Warning in the cold
“Just a suggestion that people take a real hard look at how they are using portable heaters,” Walker said.
Heaters, no matter the type, need to be used in certain ways.
“It’s really crucial they are on a stable surface and any combustibles are at least three feet away from the heater and that they’re not plugged into extension cords and power bars,” he added.
Key is keeping anything away from the heater.
“You want to make sure that you have that three-foot radius,” Walker said
He added that people want to be careful with how they plug in heaters which used a great deal of electricity.
“They pull a lot, that’s why you don’t want them plugged into power bars… or extension cords,” he explained. “You can get into some overheating and current problems.”