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A fire in the early afternoon on May 23 has destroyed the machine shop at Spud Ltd. Potato Farm in Rosebank.

The fire could not have come at a worse time, as planting season has begun in the province.

“It’s a busy time to have to deal with this mess,” said Bruce Adams, owner and operator of the farm.

Even though his machine shop was burning, Mr Adams had to keep working, going back to his fields to continue planting seed. Potatoes at the farm are processing potatoes for french fries and seed.

The smell of smoke was thick in the air as fire crews worked to contain the blaze. The building was 80 feet by 60 feet, and contained items like tools, a van trailer, a boat, and countless other items. No equipment was in the shop at the time.

The Alberton Volunteer Fire Department received a call about the fire at 11:59 a.m. Once they knew it was a machine shop, the call for mutual aid was put out, and departments from O’Leary, Miminegash, Tignish, and West Point responded. 

“When we arrived, the building was fully engulfed,” said Darrell Graham, deputy chief of the Alberton Volunteer Fire Department. “Subsequently, we had some BLEVEs of propane tanks that were inside, then the roof collapsed, and the back of the building collapsed. Fire marshal has been informed, and he’s on his way up.”

BLEVE is short for Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion.

“It was important for the safety of our guys to keep our firefighters back from the building, because when a BLEVE goes off, the fragments are like shrapnel, it can go anywhere,” said Mr Graham. “When the building started to collapse, we had to set up a collapse zone around the structure to keep our man-power safe.”

At times, wind blew smoke from the blaze across the highway, and was so thick at one point that it temporarily blocked out the sun.

Keeping the building as damp as possible was important, as there is another structure just in front of the shop, and woods in behind it. Heavy equipment machinery was brought in to pull a wall out so fire crews could get at any hidden fires still going inside the building.

For Mr Adams, the biggest concern won’t be erecting a new building, but something just as important

“The building is one thing, but it’s the set up of all your stuff you had in it to work with,” he said. “There’s a lot of odds and ends in there  that we’ll never probably even think about getting back, because I don’t have a list of all of my tools. You just have  a blanket loss. I’m sure for the next five years we’ll be looking for something and ‘Oh, yeah. That probably burned in the fire’.”

The cause of the fire has yet to be determined.

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