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Fire claims multiple building destruction in Newbury

Fire claims multiple building destruction in Newbury

Fifty firefighters battle and contain a farm fire in Newbury that causes $2 million in damages and loss of all winter feed.

By Andrew Joseph,; Photo by Owen Simpson

With the owners away on vacation, a fire at a Newbury, Ontario farm on August 20, 2022, caused $2 million of destruction to multiple structures including loss of winter feed and all grain storage—just ahead of harvest.

Fire sucks, as this writer will attest to. There’s shock and dismay. There’s the loss of the feeling of personal safety. Even when the fire is out, there’s the onset of paranoia—you think you smell smoke even when there’s none—and despair as one wonders how you are supposed to move on. But one has to.

Luckily, for Chad Fennell who farms near Newbury, Ontario, in Middlesex County, he was away in Kapuskasing with his family on vacation.

About to head in for the evening, a phone call from a neighbour told him his barn was on fire, with additional calls telling him it was bad.

Gathering his family and driving 10 hours, the Fennell family arrived home to find his property a smoldering mess.

Some 50 firefighters contained and extinguished the blaze that Fennell estimates caused $2 million in damages: 400 square bales of hay; two barns; three junk silos; lots of equipment; and all his winter feed.

The farming community is so-named for a reason, as news of the damage spread neighbours and friends and neighbour friends came by to provide emotional support and offer their help—some 20 people arrived overnight.

They arrived and without instruction began watering the cattle, or floated the high hoe to the fire area and worked with the fire department until 6AM attempting to help in shutting everything down.

The fire was believed to have started in a dusty feed room where a critter chewed something it shouldn’t have and caused a spark, with a southern wind fanning the flames and pushing it towards Fennell’s hay barn.

The fire was so sudden and fast spreading, that even if Fennell and family had been at home, the damage would have been just as devastating.

Unsure about what his insurance will cover and with no grain storage, he wonders what he’s going to do. But, no one was physically hurt and we’re hopeful the farm community will continue with its support to help the family.

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As we start to narrow down what is left of soybean harvest for 2022 I am starting to feel better. We get our Gleaner R75 set up and rolling on some more bean fields.


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