By Connor Lynch
ATHENS — Just last month, Athens Fire Chief Mike Smid got his first call as chief to a structural fire. It was his parents’ former dairy barn.
It was only in May that Mike Smid had taken over as chief from his dad Charles.
But for Smid, the 911 call on July 14 was a call like any other, and a quick response from 17 local firefighters and the mutual aid system from neighbouring communities enabled them to keep the flames from devouring the main barn and spreading to the rest of the buildings.
It could’ve been far worse, said Smid. His parents, who have 50 beef cattle and also cash crop the property at Athens, northwest of Brockville, were considering going for a drive after prepping the cattle to be sent out. “If they had (gone for a drive), there wouldn’t have been anything left on the farm.” Instead, they were sitting at home, heard groaning and popping noises from outside the house, went to investigate, “and it’s all history from there.”
The fire nearly got out of control. Starting in the drive shed, it spread to the attached garage on the house, where it melted some of the siding, though the firefighters managed to contain it.
Then the hayloft in the former dairy barn caught fire. “For a brief, scary moment, (the fire) spread to the main barn, which is pretty much attached to everything on the farm. But we got that under control very quickly.”
Complete destruction of the drive shed and its contents, including a tractor, meant the cause of the fire was impossible to determine. It’s possible some of the electronics, such as battery packs, inside the shed started the blaze (the majority of barn fires in Ontario, where a cause can be determined, are found to be started by electrical problems), but the extensive damage ruled out any conclusion.
There was no damage estimate, Smid said.
First major fire call for new Athens fire chief was the home farm
By Connor Lynch