By Connor Lynch
Despite a rash of barn fires in Western Ontario last month, the province on the whole has seen a gradual decrease in the prevalence of barn fires, though they’ve gotten a lot costlier as farm operations get bigger and more expensive.
From 2011 to 2015, the most recent statistics available from the Office of the Fire Marshall show that barn fires have gone down in Ontario by 14 per cent, from 186 in 2011 down to 159 in 2015.
But those fires have gotten a lot more expensive. The total damages from barn fires in 2011 was $35.9 million, which leapt up to $48.2 million in 2015, even though there were 27 fewer fires. The average cost per barn also shot up from $193,000 to $303,000.
The most frequent known cause of barn fires is mechanical or electrical failure. Eight fires in 2015 were caused by arson. There were 51 fires, or almost one-third of barn fires, in which a cause was not determined.
Fires were almost evenly split between barns that housed livestock and barns that didn’t, with 46 per cent of the fires hitting barns with livestock.