Cattle liner fire causes mayhem on Highway 2

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 03:05 pm | Julie Bertrand
Noel West/Olds Albertan
Noel West/Olds Albertan
TOP: Firefighters put out a fire that started in the rear-end brakes of a cattle liner on Hwy 2 between the Olds and Didsbury overpasses last Thursday evening. BOTTOM: Firefighters attempt to corral cattle along a ditch parallel to the southbound lanes on Hwy. 2 after the cattle were released from the burning cattle liner.
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A cattle liner fire caused traffic on Highway 2 to be interrupted for several hours last Thursday, as RCMP officers and Alberta sheriffs rounded up 55 head of cattle that had been freed from the burning trailer.

The cattle liner’s rear-end brakes caught fire at approximately 4:40 p.m. while it was travelling in the southbound lanes of the highway, two kilometres south of the Olds overpass.

To save the animals, the first responder on scene, who was a Blackfalds RCMP member, freed the animals.

“The cattle went everywhere. It was mass chaos, with about five of us trying to manage traffic along with the head of cattle not running in other traffic in the north and southbound lanes,” said Sheriff Peter Carr, Innisfail Integrated Traffic Unit.

Three of the cattle died as a result of the fire, while one animal had to be euthanized.

The fire was quickly extinguished once the Olds fire department arrived on scene.

According to Olds fire department Chief Lorne Thompson, cattle were running in the northbound and southbound lanes.

“There were no vehicles moving, so nobody hit any,” he said.

Even with the help of Olds RCMP and the Olds fire department, the law enforcement officers struggled to contain the scene.

“I called a Red Deer radio station and I asked for the public’s assistance. A lot of us don’t have experience with cattle. We are city guys. We asked for help,” said Carr.

“We had cattle liners on the way but they were upwards of two hours away. We could not get hold of Mountain View County for emergency trailers.”

With the public’s assistance, the emergency responders were able to quickly round up about 40 head of cattle in a field on the west side of the highway by cutting the fence.

“We had assistance from the RCMP Livestock Unit. It was one of the people that must have heard the radio or the timing of that, offered help, and they came down,” said Carr.

“They were of great assistance. They have all the resources and the contacts necessary.”

A local farmer even brought his cattle-herding dog to help in the roundup.

As this was going on, traffic was brought to a standstill on both sides of the highway, with the Olds fire department closing the highway at the Olds overpass.

“The traffic was backed up probably for a good four to five hours,” said Carr.

“Then, once we had the cattle contained in the west fields, we opened the highway down to one lane.”

While waiting for a big-rig towing company to arrive, the emergency responders had to shift the cattle liner.

“We actually had to take the cattle liner itself northbound in the southbound lanes,” said Carr.

“It couldn’t just be towed normally, because the frame was melted.”

The cattle liner was taken off the highway at approximately 7:30 p.m. The Innisfail Integrated Traffic Unit and Blackfalds Traffic members then departed, leaving the task of rounding up the missing cattle to Olds RCMP, Didsbury RCMP, and the RCMP Livestock Unit.

“I know they rode on their quads to round up the cattle,” said Carr.

According to the Innisfail Integrated Traffic Unit and the Olds fire department, both the cattle owners and the cattle liner are out of Taber. The cattle were on their way to a feedlot in Picture Butte.

The RCMP, the Alberta Sheriffs and the Olds fire department would like to thank the public for their assistance.

“It was greatly appreciated,” said Thompson.


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