The fire at the Smiths barn on Louck’s Road was an all-station response from the North Dundas Fire Service. The fire destroyed several connected barns that represented the sixth generation of the family farm. Courtesy Photo
CHESTERVILLE – Six generations of history on the Robert Smith farm were destroyed in a quickly moving fire on Wed., Feb. 8.
The Smiths farm is located on Loucks Road near Chesterville. It was called in by a neighbour of the Smiths who live across the road at 8 a.m.
Robert and Marie Smith/McGuire live at the farm.
Chesterville Station number 4 fire chief Mike Gruich said, the fire was an all-station response. When firefighters arrived, the barn was fully engulfed as well as several outbuildings nearby.
Robert Smith said he was able to get into the barn and rescue two cows that were there. There were no other animals involved. Once a dairy farm, the farm had up to 100 cows in that same barn which they had switched to cash cropping in 2005.
“The cows were outside. We were able to contain it right away, so it didn’t get to the house, or the tarp shed at the back,” said Gruich.
Over 40 firefighters were at the scene most of the day, making sure the fire did not spread.
The day-long fire meant that firefighters had to exist on coffee and donuts. Chief Gruich called Louis’s Restaurant in Chesterville for some pizzas.
“It was coming on to lunch time and people were getting hungry. We had coffee and donuts, but needed more.
I called Louis’s Restaurant.
Dinos Pavlounis, the restaurant’s owner delivered the pizzas himself.
“Everyone appreciated Dino’s gesture. We knew we had another 5 or 6 hours to go.
He came and dropped the pizzas off and when I went to settle up, he said, ‘do not worry about it’, he brought large pizzas, enough for all of the fire firefighters,” said Gruich.
The fire destroyed the tools and equipment stored in the barn, as well as ended the legacy of six generations of the Smith family using the barn and buildings.
“There was four barns all tied together and everything went down,” said Smith.
He said, “This homestead was established in 1840.”
The barns have been remodelled several times over the years.
“They go back well into the 1900s,” said Smith. “There is a lot of history lost for sure.”
“I am the sixth generation here.”
“It all happened so fast. A lot of thoughts go through your mind.”
The fire could have spread to the Smiths home, had the wind been blowing from a different direction.
“The wind was in our favour. If the wind had been from the north, it would have been a concern. It would have been blowing right toward the house. The house was built in 1874. The original house was a log house,” explained Smith.
He said he will have to build something to replace the shed for the equipment he has.
“It took six generations to build it and in four hours it was all gone.”
He said some of the beams in the barn were 40 feet long and 14 inches by 14 inches square.
He would have grown up as a child working and playing around the buildings.
“They were here long before me,” he said.
Joseph Morin is the Editor of the Eastern Ontario AgriNews, and the Record. He is, despite years of practice, determined to eventually play the guitar properly. He has served the Eastern Ontario community as a news editor, and journalist for the past 25 years with the Iroquois Chieftain, Kemptville Advance, West Carleton Review, and Ottawa Carleton Review in Manotick. He has never met a book he did not like.