Ashland Barn Fire truck

·3 min read

A barn fire in Ashland and four suspicious blazes in East Brighton kept Hartland's volunteer firefighters on the move overnight between Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 3 and 4.

Hartland Fire Chief Mike Walton said the weekend proved a drain on his department's firefighters and resources.

He said the fires in nearby East Brighton, involving four abandoned homes, appear the result of someone "on a path of destruction."

Walton said the RCMP is investigating the East Brighton blazes, which began in close succession early Sunday morning.

"They were all within a mile of each other," he said.

He said the department responded to the first East Brighton call at approximately 2:30 a.m. before all crew members left the barn fire in Ashland. Some firefighters started to return home, some had just arrived back at the fire hall, and some were still on the Ashland fire scene.

Walton said whoever set the East Brighton fires was "staying just ahead of us."

He said a fire truck driver drove past one of the fires to turn when he noticed the glow in the sky from another blaze.

The fire chief believes the person or persons responsible for the East Brighton fires are likely "pretty local" and know the area.

While no one lived in the structures, which included a trailer, Walton said they were still someone else's property, and any fire is dangerous and a threat to other property.

The long night of fire fighting began just before 8 p.m. Saturday with the barn blaze at Aubrey Giberson's farm in Ashland, a farming community west of Hartland.

Giberson, a beef farmer who operates Giberson's Meat Shop on Ashland Road, said he was in the barn when the fire started.

While the pole barn strapped with steel has no power, he believes an extension cord he had running through it may have sparked the fire.

"I was right there when it started," Giberson said. "It started right there between the hay mow and where the cattle go."

He said the building contained only some old hay and a little bit of grain.

Most of the hay is wrapped and stored outside.

Giberson said the only equipment in the building was a skid-steer loader. He managed to drive it to safety, but the blister on his hand attested to the machine's heat when he got on to operate it.

While the wooden structure and the hay fuelled an intensive blaze, the Hartland Fire Department, with mutual aid from Woodstock and Florenceville-Bristol, managed to keep the fire from spreading to other farm buildings.

While Walton plans to investigate further, he agrees with Giberson that the extension cord was the most likely cause of the fire.

Walton said a Hartland fire truck remains on the scene at Giberson's farm as the large hay bales continue to smoulder and could for a few days.

The fire chief noted the barn was not insured.

The Hartland Fire Department's busy weekend began on Friday evening, Sept. 2, when its ladder truck responded to an apartment building blaze in Woodstock.

Walton said needless fires like those in East Brighton deliver significant hits to Hartland's financial resources.

Doing some quick calculations, the fire chief said the weekend fires cost the town of Hartland more than $12,000.

Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, River Valley Sun