“It was a hard fire” Firefighters battle blaze at meat plant

Firefighters walk through what's left of the Scotian Meat Market slaughterhouse in Upper Rawdon after fire ravaged the building July 25. (Healey photo)

UPPER RAWDON: Close to 30 fire departments from across four counties in central N.S. heard the ‘sound of their people’ late on Sunday night, July 25 for a ravaging fire that destroyed a building in Upper Rawdon.

At approximately 10:30 p.m., 911 was alerted to a fire at the Scotian Meat Market slaughterhouse on Hwy 14 in Upper Rawdon, sending firefighters from Rawdon to the scene. The structure was 50 by 100 in size.

Mutual aid was requested, and responses came from other fire departments, including Noel; Gore; Brooklyn; Nine Mile River; Enfield; Kennetcook; Stewiacke; Milford; Walton Shore; Maitland; Lantz; Cobequid; Elmsdale; Shubenacadie; Windsor; Wolfville; Uniacke Fire; New Minas; Station 48 Beaver Bank; Station 40 Dutch Settlement; Station 42 Wellington; Station 43 Grand Lake; Station 35 Cooks Brook; Beaver Brook; Greenwich; Brookfield; Summerville; and Hantsport. Those are the ones listed on Firefighters N.S. FB page.

EHS, N.S. Power, East Hants RCMP, and Transportation and Active Transit crews also responded.

The slaughterhouse ablaze in Upper Rawdon. (Submitted photo)

As firefighters arrived, they could see it was serious, said Deputy Chief Jimmy Robinson, who was Incident Commander on scene.

“My biggest thing when I got there was saving the house,” said Robinson as firefighters cleaned hoses on the Rawdon truck Monday night. “We tried to make entry but within minutes we had to back out of it as it was too dangerous. We put water on the house and the barn.”

According to Robinson, he said speaking with previous owners family members they told him the building had been built some 80-90 years ago.

Robinson said the only trouble firefighters had fighting the fire was that it was a steel structure.

“It collapsed on us early and we had to get an excavator o come in and take it apart,” he said.

A call was made early in the morning to Adam Meehan, and within an hour he was there with the excavator and began tearing the building down which assisted firefighters greatly in getting a handle on the fire.

“Big kudos to Andy McDade the deputy chief with Gore for operations, he made my life as IC easy for this call,” said Robinson.

Robinson said firefighters had scheduled a water shuttle for the location last year and had drawings down up of where things would be for that training exercise. They put that to good use in the real thing, and it worked amazing.

The slaughterhouse is nothing but rubble. (Healey photo)

He said there was no hiccups as the firefighters from the four counties—who rarely see each other on calls together–to respond worked cohesively and seamlessly to battle the fire.

“It was a hard fire to fight, but with the team that we had we did it. Three-and-a-half hours for a structure that big, I think we done a good job,” said Robinson. “I told Valley dispatch today that they did a really great job getting what I needed to the scene.”

Robinson mentioned thanks to local businesses and the women who came in to make the food. Elmsdale Sobeys; Withrow’s; Anthony’s Fresh Mart in Kennetcook; RGM in Rawdon Gold Mines; and Stewiacke Robin’s were a few that pitched in.

“It was amazing the food that was prepared for the firefighters,” he said.

The cause of the fire is undetermined as of yet, said Robinson. The Fire Marshall is continuing their investigation.

Firefighters sift through the rubble in Upper Rawdon. (Healey photo)

East Hants Warden Eleanor Roulston issued a statement, sending a special thank you to volunteer firefighters after the fire.

“Many thanks go out to the firefighters who responded to last night’s fire in Rawdon,” said Roulston, who calls Rawdon home. “The quick response from our local departments and the support from all departments who were called to assist was phenomenal and your hard work prevented the fire from spreading to adjacent buildings on the property.

“I would also like to thank the many volunteers who showed up at the Rawdon Fire Hall to help support our firefighters by making sandwiches, tea, and coffee into the early morning hours, and breakfast this morning.

“Finally, the outpouring of support from local businesses and businesses as far away as Stewiacke was outstanding. Thank you all.”