Room at the inn for ewes and lambs after fire


When fire flared up Monday night in a small lambing barn, owners were forced to bring out their ewes and newborn lambs into a very cold night.

But fortunately for the family – Erin and Billy McNab, and daughter Kaylee – a neighbour off the Neelin Road just happened to have room at their inn for the woolly guests.

“I was driving home from work, around 8:30 p.m., on the Neelin Road, and I saw four or five vehicles behind me. That was unusual, especially on a holiday,” said Leona Mozner, a home care worker in the Killarney area. “Then I saw flashing lights, and I wondered what it was.”

Just then Mozner’s cell phone rang in her vehicle.

“It was Erin, and she said that her barn was on fire, and could I help her with the animals,” said Mozner. “She had gotten all the animals out, except for one goat, called Barbara. It was in a pen on its own, and she didn’t have a knife to cut the twine holding the pen together.”

Mozner arrived at her home moments later, and then she and partner Rob Martin immediately began marshalling transport in order to transfer the McNab’s freezing livestock to somewhere warmer.

And because the animals were also family pets, the job went smoothly, in spite of the smoke and fire chaos in the yard.

“Rob had seen the fire trucks,” said Mozner. “We ran down there with a trailer, and we used Billy’s trailer and ours to load up the 20 sheep and four lambs. They were very friendly sheep, so they were easy to load up. They all have names. We didn’t have to do a lot of chasing and turning to get them in.”

Then they drove the short distance back to the Mozner farm, and positioned the trailers close to the barn.

Together they unloaded the animals, taking out the lambs first, and drove the bigger ewes into the corral and the building.

Inside, mother-and-baby rooms were already prepared for their arrival – because Mozner had only just completed her own lambing a few weeks earlier.

“We put heat lamps on the babies,” said Mozner. “They needed a chance to warm up. Then we unloaded the mothers and put them together. We had lots of room in our barn. I had just lambed out my flock, 30 ewes with 30 lambs, in late January, and I still had my lambing pens and heaters set up.”

By the time the pair finished, it was 12:45 a.m., she said. They were exhausted.

The next day the McNab family was beginning to come to terms with their losses, and thankful it wasn’t worse.

But Erin McNab, who suffered some smoke inhalation during the fire, was still reeling from the event, and especially the dreadful loss of her pregnant pet dwarf goat Barbara.

“We had her in a pen, because she was due to have her babies any day,” said Erin McNab. “She was huge. I went in through the smoke to get her, but I didn’t have a knife to cut the twine. I couldn’t undo it with my fingers. The fire hit the electrical box, and the fire was shooting over my head. I had to get out. I could hear her crying.”

The fire was deemed by the fire crew to have been caused by faulty electrical wiring in the old building, she said.

“The electrician has been here today, and they have disconnected it (service) at the pole,” said McNab. “If we do rebuild, we have a connection here at the pole.”

Along with her daughter, 14-year-old Karlee, who had first spotted the fire on Monday night, the pair was unloading a bag of grain the next day at the Mozner farm, in order to help feed their animals in their temporary accommodation.

“I’m glad I got in there, and saved what I could,” said Erin McNab. “Before the fire we had just had a set of twins born.”

Their lambing shed was located in part of a long and narrow strip of older loose housing, which had been enclosed in part to create the sheltered accommodation.

“That’s a write-off,” said McNab. “Some of the loose housing is burnt too. We will just have to get through these first days before we figure out what to do next. We still have to get through the rest of our lambing.”

NEIGHBOURS PROVIDE SHELTER FOR SHEEP – After a loose housing fire on Monday night, sheep owners Erin McNab (far right) and her daughter Karlee (centre) were offered shelter for their flock in neighbour Leona Mozner’s (left) farmyard. The McNabs were in the middle of lambing out 20 ewes at the time – and temperatures were extremely cold.


BARN BURNS – Fire Chief Troy Cuvelier, of the Killarney-Turtle Mountain Fire Department, douses the flames on a burning barn at the McNab’s on Monday.