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Major fire strikes main facility at Dalhousie Agricultural Campus in Bible Hill


A fire that broke out on the roof of the Cox Institute of the Dalhousie Agriculture Faculty in Bible Hill demanded the services of at least nine fire departments Wednesday night.

“There are no reported casualties or injuries and at the moment the fire departments are still working to contain the fire,” campus principal Dr. David Gray said from the scene around midnight.

The fire was called in around 9:15 p.m.

Aerial units from Truro and Valley Kemptown sprayed water on the roof above classrooms and offices buildings for hours as fire fighters fought to contain the stubborn blaze that send acrid smoke billowing through the air.

Sirens and flashing lights filled the night air as pumper trucks made continuous runs between Bible Hill and Truro to replenish the quickly depleting tanks.
Firefighters continued to work into the early morning hours, with the fire finally extinguished around 4 a.m.

Bible Hill residents Kiara MacKinnon and Tailyr Stewart were driving up Pictou Road around 9:20 when they spotted flames coming out of the roof of the building. They immediately called 911 and were told that numerous other calls were coming in and fire fighters were on the way.

Stewart said flames were already shooting out of the roof at that point.

“A huge black cloud with flames probably like 10 feet up or higher,” he said. “They went down but then kept coming back up, went down, came back up.”

On Thursday morning, Bible Hill Fire Chief Joey Bisson said the cause of the fire had not yet been determined.

"It was in the upper levels, from the third floor to the roof," he said. "The second floor has a lot of smoke damage.

"We were on site until about 7 this morning."

With regular-season classes shut down for the summer, the building had been quieter than usual, but it was still in use.

“Summer teaching goes on, but classes have already moved to other buildings, and courses will continue,” said David Gray, dean of the faculty of agriculture.

“The fire fighters did a wonderful job. They were very professional, and communicated regularly and effectively with us.

“The community has also been amazing, with organizations offering support and help.”

He said that until the fire marshal’s investigation is complete, staff don’t have access to the building.

Construction work had been taking place on the Cox Institute roof Wednesday, as part of the renovations which have been ongoing during the past three years.

Fire departments from Bible Hill, Truro, Valley/Kemptown, Salmon River, North River, Cobequid, Hilden, Onslow/Belmont and Brookfield all played a role in the massive firefighting effort.

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