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Cleanup has begun of Bentley grain elevator destroyed by fire

Fire smouldered among tens of thousands of bushels of grain for weeks

The smoky pong that was hanging over Bentley is gone and cleanup of the remains of a spectacular grain elevator fire just before Christmas is well underway.

Town chief administrative officer Marc Fortais said the Healthy Herds Feedmill owner began work as soon as he got the green light from insurers and crews have been busy cleaning up debris all week.

“The property owner got on it very quickly,” said Fortais.

The fire at the landmark grain elevator and local landmark was reported about 1:30 a.m. on Dec. 23. Volunteer firefighters from Bentley and Lacombe fought the fire all night.

For weeks after the spectacular blaze the debris and tens of thousands of bushels of grain smouldered. Bentley firefighters had to return frequently to deal with hot spots and flare-ups.

Smoke and stench from the site blew across town when the wind was in the wrong direction, prompting numerous complaints and questions about when the site would finally be cleared away.

Healthy Herds told the town it wanted to get going as soon as insurers approved the effort.

Fortais said the situation has been tough for everybody. The feedmill owner lost his elevator and a large amount of grain. The town lost a local landmark that features on its entrance signs and was a popular community gathering place. The side of the elevator was even used as a makeshift movie screen for drive-in movie nights.

The smell is now gone. Once the elevator wreckage is cleared, the grain will be hauled away in coming days. All that remains is some twisted wreckage and huge piles of scorched grain. The concrete pad the grain elevator sat sits empty.

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