Fire at McDonald's farm

James
James McLeod
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Four cattle perish, most animals rescued

When Mary McDonald saw smoke billowing from her barn, her first thought was "get the cows out."

Fire ripped through the barn at McDonald's farm on Old Bay Bulls Road in Kilbride Tuesday afternoon, causing significant damage and leaving at least four animals dead.

Fire Capt. Joe Doyle (far left) surveys the fire scene on McDonalds farm on Bay Bulls Road as Tommy Williams of Goulds pulls a calf out of harms way, aided by John McDonald, son of the farms owners, who pushes the calf from behind. Chris Rideout of Wals

When Mary McDonald saw smoke billowing from her barn, her first thought was "get the cows out."

Fire ripped through the barn at McDonald's farm on Old Bay Bulls Road in Kilbride Tuesday afternoon, causing significant damage and leaving at least four animals dead.

"It was too thick with smoke," McDonald said. "(My sons) got a couple out, then the firemen came and got a few more out."

Under control quickly

Firefighters from the St. John's Regional Fire Department arrived around 2 p.m. and quickly got the fire under control. Supt. Jerry Peach said they were hampered somewhat by an inability to get water quickly to the scene.

"It's an age-old problem in the rural situations where there's a shortage of water," Peach said, adding that firefighters had to shuttle water in to douse embers in the barn.

"The workers were in there trying to pull the livestock out."

When the fire started, Tom McDonald, Mary's husband, was in the house.

"I ran down to the barn and she was all ablaze," he said.

He ran back to the house and called the fire department, then went back to try to save the 16 cows inside the barn.

Inside the barn, he was quickly overcome by smoke and forced to retreat.

"When I went in I got it down in my lungs and everywhere because the smoke was too thick," he said. "It was an awful mess."

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Safely back outside, Tom called his sons, John and Patrick. Despite thick smoke his son John ran in, trying to save the cows.

"We couldn't keep him out of the barn," Tom said.

It took some time to get the fire under control, due to both the water issues and questions about the stability of the second floor. However, even after the smoke was no longer coming from the building, the scene remained chaotic, with workers trying to round up and control more than a dozen cattle that were taken from the barn.

As onlookers watched from the road, workers chased cattle between fire trucks and over spurting hoses. Some of the cows were soaking wet and visibly wheezing.

As workers and members of the McDonald family tried to control the animals, Tom's daughter Lisa, who works at the Avalon Animal Hospital, arrived.

After coming out of the barn, she was distraught and stood in the barnyard crying. Tom said it was her birthday.

Eventually, the cows were rounded up and taken to a neighbour's farm, and a vet checked them for smoke inhalation.

Tom said there had been an earlier fire in the barn in 1979, but no people or animals had been hurt.

He said he didn't know what caused the fire, but said he thought it might be electrical. He said when he first ran down to the barn, all of the flames were coming from the side where the electrical wiring was.

"She was all ablaze on the side."

Fire officials hadn't determined the cause as of press time.

jmcleod@thetelegram.com

Organizations: McDonald's, Avalon Animal Hospital

Geographic location: Old Bay Bulls Road, Kilbride, St. John's

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Recent comments

  • J
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    Glad it wasn't worse... hope the injured animals are alright.

  • J
    July 01, 2010 - 20:14

    Glad it wasn't worse... hope the injured animals are alright.