Fire investigators are still trying to determine the case of a fire that ripped through a former Delburne feed mill on Sunday night.
Delburne deputy fire chief Roy Jamieson said the fire is considered suspicious but remains under investigation.
The blaze broke out around 9 p.m. on Sunday and drew nearly 30 volunteer firefighters from Delburne and Red Deer County. Smoke was billowing from the building when firefighters arrived.
About a dozen volunteer firefighters from Delburne were soon on the scene with two pumpers, a tanker and other support vehicles. Another 15 volunteer firefighters from Red Deer County also attended with a pumper, ladder truck, tanker and other vehicles.
Jamieson said it took about two to three hours to contain the blaze. A track hoe was brought in around 11 p.m. to tear down some of the structure because fire had gotten into the walls of what had been cold rooms. The cork-insulated walls were built to store dairy products and eggs in one of the feed mill’s earliest incarnations.
“Once the fire got in there it was almost impossible to attack,” he said.
Most of the firefighters were gone by 4 a.m., although Delburne left a crew of four on scene to keep an eye on the site.
It appears the fire started in a warehouse and spread towards an office area, said Jamieson The RCMP are investigating.
A damage estimate is not yet available. “It’s hard to put a dollar figure on it. The building hasn’t been used for a few years.”
Mill owner Bill Chandler said the structure is a “write-off. She’s pretty well toast.”
The mill, which has been closed since 2005, was empty at the time of the fire, said Chandler, who is still looking into insurance coverage.
“It’s a loss,” said Delburne Mayor Bob Manning of the feed mill that he built in 1968 and operated until 1995, when he sold it to Chandler.
Manning had just returned home from Saskatchewan when he got word from the village’s chief administrative officer that the mill was ablaze. He went to check out the scene.
“The warehouse for the mill was on fire,” he said. “The fire continued through the office and probably burned half the office structure down.
“The mill itself is standing and the steel structure is still standing.”