An early morning blaze in rural Langley reduced a large chicken barn to a smouldering pile of melted metal and burnt wood — but it didn’t harm any people or birds in the process.
Neighbours of the commercial poultry facility reported hearing a series of explosions just before 5 a.m. Friday, before seeing flames light up the sky around the property in the 4700 block of 236 Street.
Township firefighters were called at 5:07 a.m. and arrived to find the barn’s east side fully engulfed in flames and the fire working its way west along the building.
Tankers were brought in from every hall in the Township to haul water to fight the three-alarm blaze, which is believed to have started in a machine repair shop at the east end of the building.
The 1960s-era barn, which normally contains a large number of chickens, was empty when the fire broke out, because a large shipment of the birds had recently been taken away, said Langley Township assistant fire chief Pat Walker.
Built between 1966 and 1967, the barn’s attic was insulated with sawdust — standard practice at the time, said Walker. That excess fuel, combined with the building’s wood-frame construction and galvanized steel cladding, made the fire extremely difficult to fight, he added.
The steel covering would have caused the barn to heat rapidly and, following the building’s collapse, hindered firefighters’ progress in dousing the flames, he explained.
More than five hours after the blaze broke out, crews were still putting out scattered small fires in piles of sawdust.
Although water had to be hauled nearly a mile, the tanker support system worked well, and Walker was pleased with the crews’ response.
The barn was not equipped with sprinklers or a fire alarm.
Township of Langley Fire Dept. photo