British Columbia Division

Photo Credit: Adele Epp

A Barn Burns and a Community Rallies


It was at 6.00am on June 28th, in the midst of one of the driest summers on record in the Fraser Valley, that a milking vacuum pump overheated and burst into flames.The Cedar Valley staff had only minutes to get all of the cows out of the barn; while firefighters, friends, family, and other farmers arrived quickly on scene to assist.

Marian Vanderwal recalls, "As I arrived on scene, flames were shooting out of both ends of the barn.The heat from the fire was so intense that we couldn't get near the barn. Miraculously, our staff had been able to get most of the cows out of the barn quickly in the first few terrifying seconds. Helpers came from everywhere and we formed a human chain to herd the cows and calves into trailers and they were taken to other locations.The Salvation Army Emergency Vehicle came and was feeding and hydrating the  firefighters in the intense heat, neighboring farmers' wives brought water, farmers brought trucks and trailers.Wisbeys,who had only just suffered a tragic fire of their own, brought buns and baking, and the good folks at the Yellow Barn brought pies and more baking. It was absolutely remarkable! We had nearly 400 head of cattle re-located and milked by 10.00 am! As devastating as this was, the big picture was that everyone just came together, from everywhere and out of nowhere and just got the job done; it was remarkable! We are just so very thankful to everyone, and so grateful that no one was hurt.”

For now the Vanderwal cows are in three separate barns with their calves in a fourth. The family is hoping to rebuild and to have their project complete by the end of next summer.

The Salvation Army's Emergency Disaster Services vehicles and volunteer staff are on call 24/7 and respond to fires, floods, disasters, missing persons, and other various emergency situations.The Salvation Army was honored to attend and serve at both the Wisbey and Vanderwal fires, as well as other emergencies across British Columbia. This vital service is only made possible by our dedicated volunteers and through the gracious donations of community minded people just like you.

Story Credit – Centre of  Hope, Fall Newsletter. Photo Credit – Adele/Epp

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