A fire that broke out at an Agassiz dairy farm late Wednesday destroyed multiple buildings and claimed the lives of two cows, but if not for the quick work of neighbouring dairy farmers, it could have been much worse.
Firefighters were called to the scene shortly after 10 p.m. and found several buildings engulfed in flames. They began to battle the blaze, and as they did, they watched in awe as a band of farmers swooped in to quickly and efficiently evacuate the barn of nearly 200 cows.
Agassiz Fire Chief Wayne Dyer said neighbours from several farms on Cameron Road worked quickly to move the animals, which included 172 cows and nine calves.
“It was some sight to behold, all those farmers moving all those cows so fast. They had them moved within an hour,” said Dyer. “It was unbelievable.”
Cornelis Hertgers, who owns and operates the neighbouring Cordine Farms, said that between 25 to 30 people — neighbours and other local dairy producers — helped to safely relocate the cattle after the fire broke out.
“Individuals within the dairy industry, we’re a pretty close-knit bunch of people,” he said.
By 1 a.m. the cows were settled in their new home, Hertgers said.
“We chased (the cows) to the end of the barn and opened the doors and they ran into the field,” he said. “Just gave it a few minutes, maybe a half-hour before they actually settled down, and then we used farm equipment and cattle trailers to transfer them to another property just next door.”
Dyer said it’s believed that the fire started when a corn silo heated up and some hay caught fire.
“The was nothing we could do to stop the fire. It tore through all the structures,” Dyer said.