By The Canadian Press
Jan. 29, 2016, Parry Sound, Ont. - Firefighters had to dodge spooked cows as they battled a blaze following a deadly multi-vehicle crash on the TransCanada Highway in central Ontario, the latest incident in a series of unfortunate events for Ontario farm animals this winter.
This time, there were also a human toll – one person was killed and at least five other people were taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries after the collision Thursday night on Highway 69 about 60 kilometres north of Parry Sound.
Larry Olds of Britt and Area Fire and Rescue says one firefighter was hit by a cow as it "charged out'' of a burning cattle transport truck, "but he's OK.'' Seven or eight cattle died in the collision and fire, while Olds said a couple were seriously injured and had to be shot.
Provincial police say the tractor-trailer hauling cattle was travelling southbound when it struck the blade of a northbound plow and then a northbound minivan.
The tractor-trailer continued southbound and collided head-on with a tractor-trailer hauling vehicles, sending both into a rock cut, where they burst into flames.
Olds said both vehicles were fully engulfed when they arrived on scene and the cattle transport, which was carrying an estimated 60 to 80 animals, had been ripped open in the collision.
"Most of them got out ... they were scrambling to get away,'' he said.
He said firefighters had to keep an eye on the animals that had escaped from the truck.
"You had to watch them because they were very spooked and they would charge you,'' Olds said. "Eventually, they moved off into the bush.''
Police said the driver of the cattle truck was killed, while the drivers of the plow and the second tractor-trailer were uninjured.
Highway 69 was still closed on Friday between Highway 124 and Highway 522 as the cattle are rounded up and the collision is cleared. Small vehicles were being routed through Highway 529.
It's been a difficult month for farm animals in Ontario.
More than 2,000 pigs died in mid-January in a barn fire north of London, Ont.
A dozen horses died in a barn fire near Guelph, Ont., a week before that and a fire in early January south of Guelph killed 43 racehorses.
About 500 goats and 30 cows were also killed in a barn fire in mid-January. And a barn full of chickens died after a fire ripped through a farm in Listowel, Ont.