Mar. 11 – Members of the Norfolk County Fire Department were dispatched to a barn fire on Concession 8 in Townsend on Saturday. At approximately 2:23 p.m. crews arrived on scene and reported heavy smoke and flames.

No one was home at the time and no animals were harmed. The damage is estimated at $350,000.

“Once O.P.P. had confirmed there was no risk to life, the command officer made the decision not to send firefighters into the building because the structural integrity was questionable at that point,” said Norfolk’s Fire Prevention Officer Michael Atkins. “Firefighters employed a defensive attack mode in which they fought the fire from the outside of the building.”

“Our crews did a great job,” he added. “Unfortunately, the fire was already well advanced by the time someone noticed it and called 911.”

The family’s horses were outside at the time of the blaze, however, three dogs were in the barn when a passerby noticed heavy smoke coming from the rear of the building and dialed 911. The person was able to rescue the dogs before officials arrived on scene.

Atkins said that while the loss of the barn and the contents was obviously devastating, the fact that the bystander was able to save the dogs provided some comfort to the family.

“For many people, their pets are family,” he noted. “The homeowner was very thankful that his dogs were rescued.”

Members of Norfolk OPP were on scene to help control traffic, Norfolk County Paramedics were on standby, Hydro One came to isolate the power, and the Norfolk County Roads Department sent sanders to help when water from the operation posed a risk of turning the road icy.

The cause of the fire has not been determined but is not considered suspicious. A pick-up truck parked next to the barn did suffer some heat damage. The building was insured.