UPDATE: Back Line barn fire likely accidental: RNC preliminary report

Colin MacLean and Keith Gosse
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Second blaze breaks out late Monday night, kills horses, goats

The RNC told reporters this afternoon that a preliminary report into the barn fire on the Back Line in the Goulds area of St. John's Monday indicates it was accidental.

The preliminary investigation into the second barn fire, the one on Ruby Line Monday night, is still ongoing.

More information to come.

•••

Fire investigators today will be picking through the rubble of two barns destroyed by fire in the Goulds neighborhood of St. John’s.

Two structures were destroyed by fire Monday — one building on the Back Line and the other on Ruby Line.

Nine horses escaped from the first blaze, which was reported at about 10 a.m., but seven horses and three goats were killed in the second fire, which was reported at 10:35 p.m.

No people were injured in either incident.

In the first fire, which was on the Back Line, a neighbour alerted the property owners of smoke. They managed to get their animals to safety.

In the second incident, a motorist flagged down an RNC cruiser to report smoke coming from a barn on Ruby Line.

The RNC officer called 911 and then ran to the barn, which already had heavy smoke pouring out of it. They tried to open to the doors but they were locked.

Unable to get into the structure, the officer ran to wake the property owners. But, by the time they were able to get back to the barn, it was engulfed in flames. Nothing inside survived.

The RNC said today it’s pleading with the motorist who flagged down the officer to contact them. The motorist did not stick around the scene after the officer was informed of the smoke.

The RNC cautioned this morning that no evidence has been discovered to link the two fires. However, a spokesman with the constabulary said that police will know more once the fire investigators have had time to examine both properties.

As a precaution, officers were assigned throughout last night to check out other barns in the area.

Police are continuing to hold both scenes.

•••

(Earlier story)

Firefighters were at the scene of a second major barn fire in Goulds late Monday night.

The barn, on Ruby Line, was fully engulfed in flames and burned to the ground. Firefighters struggled to ferry water to the scene, as there were no hydrants nearby.

Several horses and some goats were reportedly in the barn. None are known to have survived.

Earlier Monday, firefighters had been called to a separate barn fire in Goulds, and could not save the structure.

Before the charred remnants of Dennis Lambert’s barn had stopped burning Monday morning, the Goulds resident had already been inundated with offers from fellow horse lovers to billet his animals, which all survived.

The family’s barn, located be­hind their home on Back Line, was destroyed by the massive fire.  Lambert told The Tele­gram his family was awoken Monday morning by a neighbour who spotted smoke and flames coming from the structure’s hayloft.

“We just ran in and got all the horses out. That was the main concern,” he said.

The barn was home to about nine racehorses and at least one dog.

All the animals got out safely and no people were injured.

Lambert added that the building was insured and that he’s received a lot of offers of help from friends and neighbours.

He appreciates it all, he said.

“The doors are open to us. … We won’t be stuck,” he said.

The fire broke out just before 10 a.m.

The RNC and fire inspector’s office are both continuing to investigate the cause of the blaze.

But whatever caused it, the resulting firestorm was challenging to put out, said Shift Supt. Derek Chafe of the St. John’s Regional Fire Department.

By the time firefighters arrived on the scene, flames were already shooting out of the building, he said, and the fire advanced quickly, fuel.ed by combustibles in the barn and high winds outside.

Crews also had to contend with a lack of water. The nearest fire hydrant was nearly a kilometre away, so two trucks took turns loading and unloading water.

When firefighters arrived on the scene, they were faced with a fire that was already pretty advanced, said Chafe, so they concentrated on saving the house, which is separated by the barn by a few feet.

The house escaped largely unscathed.

 

cmaclean@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TelegramMacLean

 

Organizations: Regional Fire Department

Geographic location: Goulds

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Recent comments

  • Maggie
    December 12, 2012 - 17:39

    Anyone who loves critters is grieving today. My heart goes out to the owners of these horses and goats and also to the people who lost their barns. I am glad that no people were injured including the owners and the brave firefighters. Hard to believe that both burned in the same day and the two events are unrelated. However stranger things have happened. Its a sad day!

  • Emma
    December 12, 2012 - 13:44

    As a horse owner of 2 I would be very upset but you can not jump to conclusion that it was arson as it was very rainy and wet out the night of the fire also hay is combustible if you know anything horses,so many barns have burnt down because of hay catching on fire , it could have Been the wiring who knows? Anything also it would have been impossible to start a fire from the inside because the barn was locked . The barn was also brand new so anything I have been in this barn before .

  • Emma
    December 12, 2012 - 13:32

    As a horse owner of 2 I would be very upset but you can not jump to conclusion that it was arson as it was very rainy and wet out the night of the fire also hay is combustible if you know anything horses,so many barns have burnt down because of hay catching on fire , it could have Been the wiring who knows? Anything also it would have been impossible to start a fire from the inside because the barn was locked . The barn was also brand new so anything I have been in this barn before .

  • Horse lover
    December 12, 2012 - 09:35

    Regardless of how all this happened, those poor beautiful animals. My heart goes out to the families that may have lost in this tragedy. It is hard to suffer any loss of person or animal anytime of the year and so close to Christmas time. Breaks my heart.

  • MADDIE
    December 11, 2012 - 16:53

    Just for the information of the uninformed, damp/decomposing hay produces a gas that combusts, starting the majority of any and all barn fires... well, anywhere. I understand that we as Newfoundlanders typically have bright, sunny and dry weather all through December but try to be understanding that there may have been some dampness recently.

  • Jill
    December 11, 2012 - 13:41

    My heart goes out to the families who lost their beloved horses (and goats). It's hard to lose a pet at any time, but to loose them this way is absolutely heartbreaking.

  • joe
    December 11, 2012 - 08:46

    Thats what we pay all the high taxes for here in the Goulds. Services no better than what we had before we were forced to join the city!

  • Don
    December 11, 2012 - 08:41

    If it is arson ( and I suspect it is) then I know they will catch this sicko and I hope he's tared and feathered.

  • stacey
    December 11, 2012 - 08:02

    Of course its an arsonist Jack. No way in HELL 2 barns in the same area in one day. That sick sick animal will get caught and get whats coming to him, he attacked the wrong family.He murdered innocent animals who were suppose to be SAFE in their barn. This person murdered family members, beloved family members. This world is messed up, how can we be apart of the great ape family when all we do it kill and destroy this earth? Im ashamed and embarrassed for this murderer and anyone who takes the life of an animal.

    • Jack
      December 11, 2012 - 08:49

      Stacey, I'm only the using the words "suspect" is that we don't know if the fires are connected. Remember the string of fires that happened in the Irish Loop area last year, while suspected that arson is the cause, it turned out that the fires were not connected. That's why I'm using the term "suspected" at this time.

    • Herb
      December 11, 2012 - 14:16

      "Of course it was an arsonist"???? How do you know it was Arson?? A little quick to judge aren't we? You have NO facts!!! So typical. Jump to the worst conclusion before any evidence is presented. It's people like you that taint jury's and put innocent people in jail!!! And you repeatedly say "He". How do you know it wasn't a woman? Once again WAY to quick to judge. Stop the hate!!! You'll live longer!

  • Jack
    December 11, 2012 - 06:49

    With two barn fires in the Goulds area in one day, I'm starting to suspect that an arsonist is targeting farms in that area.

    • Sadie
      December 11, 2012 - 07:47

      Two barns in one day, both with many beautiful, expensive horses.......very suspicious. Has there been any word on how these fires started? And no hydrants nearby? Should be quite a cause of concern for residents there.