Damage estimated between $4M and $6M in greenhouse blaze
Published Wednesday, January 23, 2013 6:31AM CST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 23, 2013 6:28PM CST
Firefighters battled a blaze at a greenhouse near Otterburne on Wednesday morning. Early estimates suggest damage is in the $4 million to $6 million range.
Crews responded to the fire at the Schriemer family's greenhouse around 4 a.m. on Jan. 23.
The owner of the greenhouse was treated in hospital for smoke inhalation and released.
Trevor Schriemer said a neighbour came and banged on his door to alert him to the fire.
Schriemer ran inside the burning building.
"I went to the boiler room area where we have automatic shut offs for the boilers and the gas line and I automatically turned those off right away, but I had to go through a lot of smoke to get there. My primary concern was that we would have an explosion so I wanted to get to that area and shut it all off," he said.
Strong winds and extremely cold weather affected efforts to fight the flames near Otterburne, about 60 kilometres south of Winnipeg.
"It's extremely difficult - just rotating crews as quickly as we can every 15 to 20 minutes because if they stay out there too long, it's just too much," said Patrick Laroche, chief of the St-Pierre-Jolys fire department.
It took crews hours to get the blaze under control.
Along with thousands of cucumbers being burned in the fire, there was also concerns about fertilizer burning. As a precaution, nearby homes were evacuated.
A handful of people were temporarily forced from their houses, including Pete Dyck.
He had helped build the greenhouse and his wife worked in it.
"It's hard to see someone build a business from scratch and (it) go up in flames like that," said Dyck.
The facility was home to 30,000 cucumber plants harvested year round and sold to a range of chains, including Safeway, Sobeys and Federated Co-op.
RCMP said the Manitoba Office of the Fire Commissioner will be helping with the investigation into what sparked the fire. A fire official said they believe the fire started near the loading dock.
The Schriemer family said they plan to rebuild.