Fire crews battle another multimillion-dollar blaze on southern Alberta reserve

Fire crews were fighting another multimillion-dollar fire on a reserve in southern Alberta.

STANDOFF — Fire crews were fighting another multimillion-dollar fire on a reserve in southern Alberta.

Oscar Cotton, chief of Blood Tribe Emergency Services, said the blaze broke out late Friday night in a forage-processing plant near Standoff.

It continued to burn Tuesday as crews worked to contain the flames.

“We don’t have a cause,” Cotton said. “There is a team investigating it and we are leaving it to them.”

About 5,000 tonnes of high-quality hay were in the building and damage was estimated at more than $3 million.

The First Nation’s website says the Blood Tribe Forage Processing Plant compresses premium grade timothy hay for export and employs about 30 people.

Calvin Crosschild, a plant spokesman, said fire crews managed to save the main buildings.

He said hay processing will be able to resume once power can be restored, perhaps in the next week.

Crosschild said the damage should be covered by insurance.

He said the fire is being treated as suspicious.

“There were some cameras on site, but they burned too,” he said. “We hope to get some vital information.”

In August, a fire on the reserve caused more than $10 million in damage when it destroyed the Red Crow Community College — a former residential school.

Cotton said the cause of the college fire is suspicious, but the investigation is not complete.

Blood Chief Charles Weasel Head said the fires are devastating but the community will bounce back.

“It is kind of a double hit for us,” he said. “Those two fires have created a big challenge for the Blood Tribe.”

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