A “massive” rural shop filled with vintage cars and restored farm equipment was destroyed in a giant blaze that took 33 firefighters six hours to extinguish on Thursday.
More than $3-million in damage was caused when flames swept through a 40,000-square-foot structure on private property north of Olds.
When volunteer firefighters arrived at the scene at about 3:40 p.m. on Range Road 14, the shed fire was fully involved and was threatening two residences on the acreage.
Acting Fire Chief Scott Chant, of the Olds Fire Department, said there was no way to save the 82 by 30.5 metre (270 by 100-foot) building — the aim was to stop the large-scale fire from spreading to the homes.
Olds firefighters fought the flames for six hours in sub-zero temperatures, with assistance from Bowden, Didsbury, Carstairs and Sundre fire departments.
Mountain View County contributed traffic control staff. A local company bought in excavators. Fortis delivered and installed a temporary power generator to restore electricity to the two nearby residences on the property. And a stand-by crew remained on scene throughout the night.
More than 140,000 gallons of water had to be hauled to the location to put out the flames. Chant said the -30 C conditions made it hard to shuttle the water 6.4 kms from Olds. “The tanker trucks kept freezing up.”
The burning shed contained one man’s private collection of vintage and one-of-a-kind automobiles, restored farm machinery and other collectibles. All were lost said Chant — including some Model T and Model A Fords, refurnished farm tractors, and limited-edition cars,including a 2005 Ford Mustang.
It’s heartbreaking for the owner, Chant added. “It’s 50 years of his life, of restoring vehicles.”
However, no injuries resulted to firefighters or residents of the acreage — although the freezing conditions caused minor damage to firefighting apparatus.
The fire is believed to have originated in part of the shop where a quantity of automotive paints was stored. The cause is still under investigation.