On July 7th shortly before 7 a.m., Lacombe Fire Department received a request for mutual aid to Bentley Fire Department at a fire in the Bentley Hutterite Colony pig barns.
Lacombe Fire Chief Ed van Delden said that Bentley put out a request for aid to several departments, including Lacombe and Blackfalds, before any fire crews had even arrived at the scene.
“They requested our support very early,” said van Delden.
Lacombe Fire Department responded to the fire with an engine, a tender, a rescue unit as well as about a dozen firefighters.
Lacombe Fire Department then provided assistance to defensive firefighting operations.
The fire was in one of the colony’s hog barns. By the time fire crews arrived, that building was already beginning to collapse so firefighters turned their efforts to saving an adjacent barn to the south, which was connected to the first by a shared utility room.
As the northern barn was unsafe to enter, firefighters directed most of their attacks from the outside of the building. They were able to contain the blaze to the northern barn.
van Delden said the southern barn was undamaged other than its shared utility room, which was dismantled so firefighters could be sure fire had not spread between the barns unseen, such as between the walls and roof.
Both barns were populated with hogs at the time of the fire and those that were in the northern barn were killed.
It is estimated thousand of pigs were lost in the fire.
Those hogs that were in the southern barn were able to be evacuated while fire-fighting operations were going on.
van Delden said the pigs were removed by the farm owners, put into temporary pens and later moved to other farms.
Once the blaze was brought under control, just before noon, Lacombe Fire Department stayed on scene to help with overhaul and cleanup operations.
van Delden said by the time Lacombe firefighters returned to quarters, fueled and put their fire trucks back in service it was after 6 p.m.
In addition to Lacombe, Blackfalds and Bentley, Sylvan Lake and Eckville fire departments also responded.
All of the firefighting operations were managed by the Bentley Fire Department.
van Delden tipped his hat to Bentley Fire Department, saying they displayed excellent leadership and resource management during the crisis.
“My compliments to them for organizing such a large-scale operation,” said van Delden. “They did an admirable job in my opinion of managing those resources and achieving their objective.”
Currently, the fire is under investigation and the cause of the fire is unknown.