By The Canadian Press
Jan. 19, 2016, North Middlesex, Ont. - The president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture says barn fires are a harsh reminder of the dangers of farming.
More than 2,000 pigs died early Tuesday in a barn fire north of London, Ont., and while the barn was destroyed, Ontario Provincial Police say no people were hurt in the blaze.
Police say the fire isn't considered suspicious as fire officials investigate and Ontario's fire marshal has been notified.
The OFA's Don McCabe says cold weather may have been a factor in the recent string of barn fires in southwestern Ontario because there's more strain on heaters and wiring during the winter months, leading to potential equipment failure.
Don McCabe says some larger operations will have an alarm system in place, but there are no regulations requesting fire alarms or sprinklers be installed in barns. He adds that it would be difficult to keep sprinkler lines from freezing.
A handful of other barn fires have killed animals in the last two weeks in southwestern Ontario – a dozen horses died last week in a barn fire near Guelph, Ont., and a blaze in early January south of Guelph killed 43 racehorses. About 500 goats and 30 cows were also killed in a barn fire over the weekend in the area.
Farmers are requested by insurance companies to make sure their wiring is up to date, but McCabe says it can be challenging to keep raccoons and other pests from chewing at the wiring.
McCabe, a former fire chief in Inwood, Ont., said the availability of water is another issue for firefighters in rural settings.
"Especially this time of year, with the cold and trying to keep the (water) lines active and warm,'' said McCabe. "Firefighters themselves don't always come from farms, so when you've got a whole herd of panicked animals, how do you suddenly address this issue?''
McCabe also said these fires often happen during the overnight hours, making it more difficult to respond and control in a timely manner.
He said the type of coverage varies from farm to farm, but said the OFA does recommend all farmers insure their property and livestock.