By Connor Lynch
ADMASTON/BROMLEY — A searing blaze on a blisteringly hot day proved a challenge for 30 Renfrew County firefighters.
A fire that broke out on cash crop farmer Jim Lynch’s farm on Stone Road in Admaston/Bromley township, just west of Renfrew, destroyed three barns on July 2.
Admaston/Bromley township Fire Chief Kevin VanWoezik, who is also Lynch’s uncle, said that the cause of the fire was probably electrical. Lynch is a mechanic and machinist, and one of the barns stored a lot of his tools and equipment, as well as machinery. It also stored a significant amount of memorabilia from Lynch’s wife, Wanda’s, deceased parents. “It’s a big loss for her too.”
As of July 23 there was no damage estimate, VanWoezik said, as Lynch was still in talks with his insurance company. Two of the barns were insured.
It was a brutal day for a fire, he said. With temperatures in the mid-30s, and higher than 40 C (104 F) counting the humidity, firefighters were getting nauseous and dizzy from the heat within 20 minutes of arriving on the scene. Even though the fire was relatively early at 8:45 a.m., temperatures were already above 30 C.
Lynch’s grandchildren first spotted the fire. Up early and out playing, they noticed sparks inside the smaller barn through the door. Lynch and his son opened the doors to find a full-blown blaze.
Firefighters called an ambulance that arrived by 9:30 a.m. and VanWoezik cranked up the air conditioning in the house that was used for triage and to cool firefighters off in rotation.
The first focus was on containing the burning barns, which were fully engulfed when firefighters arrived. Firefighters were on the scene until 4 p.m.
Formerly a beef farmer, Lynch got out of the industry when BSE hit, turning to cash crops instead. He plans to rebuild, though not to the same extent, he said. The barns were full of material; 36 tonnes of melted slag were taken out of one, Lynch said, melted down from the intense flames. “The crankshaft, and a pile of aluminum — that’s your lawnmower.”
The barn, already downed by the fire, erupted in an explosion, likely from an acetylene tank inside. The firefighters knew going in there was explosive material in the barn and kept their distance, VanWoezik said. Once everything that could explode had exploded, they went in with an excavator to clear out hotspots.
Firefighters from Admaston/Bromley township were assisted by others from neighbouring Whitewater Region and Horton fire departments.