The McDonald family is in shock as they start to deal with the fall-out of their grain elevator burning.
On Tuesday night, the last grain elevator in Turtleford caught fire. Local residents watched as the structure collapsed inwards and burning grain poured from the elevator. The elevator was owned by the McDonald family, who used it to store their crop, and was a Sask Wheat Pool elevator before that. It was also the last grain elevator standing in Turtleford.
“I don’t know what I can really say other than this has hit the family and the farm really hard,” says Blair McDonald. “We’ve had a long old harvest this fall and this is just kind of compounding on it.”
McDonald has other storage bins away from the elevator, which he was using to aerate part of his crop. But the elevator housed part of the 2015 crop, plus over half of this year’s crop. A semi-truck and trailer parked in the elevator’s driveway were also destroyed.
At about 9 pm on Nov 29 one of McDonald’s friends let him know “something strange” was coming from the elevator. McDonald, who lives about 12 miles out of town, headed for the elevator.
“By the time I got in, there were actually two phone calls to me saying it was actually smoke coming from the elevator,” he says. McDonald called 911, and found out they’d already dispatched the local fire department.
McDonald spoke to his insurance company this morning. He expects to meet with them within a couple of days. Fire investigators will also have to come out to determine the cause, he says.
“They have to wait until the fire is right out. It’s contained right now but it’s not out,” he says. McDonald spoke to the acting fire chief in Turtleford last night, and was told the department would decide this afternoon when they can start putting water on the fire to extinguish it completely.
“One thing I can say is the Turtleford Fire Department and Turtleford detachment of the RCMP did a great job containing everything and keeping everybody safe,” says McDonald. He was also grateful to the St. Walburg and Glaslyn fire departments for responding.