Thousands of animals die in huge farm blaze

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Thousands of animals die in huge farm blaze thumbnailTHOUSANDS of pigs have been killed in a fire at a farm near Bessbrook. The intense fire also destroyed three sheds at the farm on the Derrywilligan Road, Mullaghglass. NM1860

OVER 4,000 pigs are believed to have died in a huge blaze at a farm outside Bessbrook.
The fire destroyed three sheds at the farm on the Derrywilligan Road, Mullaghglass in the early hours of Saturday morning.
The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) said around 800 sows and 3,500 piglets died in the "very intense" fire. It took firefighters seven hours to tackle the blaze, using five fire engines and a NIFRS Command Support Unit. A NIFRS spokeswoman said the fire is believed to have been started deliberately.
However, Derek Warke, the farm manager, said that the numbers are closer to 2,000 pigs, even though final figures are still being tallied up. He added that he did not believe the fire was deliberate and it was the result of an electrical fault.
Police have appealed for information saying: "Shortly before 5:45am, it was reported that a fire had started at farm premises in the area. A number of animals were evacuated from the scene, but it is believed that a number of pigs perished during the incident. It is believed that extensive damage was caused to the property and diversions were in place to minimise traffic disruption.
“At this stage, the cause of the fire is still under investigation and enquiries are continuing. Anyone with any information about this incident is asked to contact police in Ardmore on the non-emergency number 101. Or if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111."
The USPCA said the act caused the animals "unspeakable suffering" in a statement on Facebook.
“A USPCA eyewitness account of the aftermath recounts a scene of utter destruction with many pigs incinerated on the blaze.
“This appalling incident comes hard on the heels of the Belfast City Hall rally calling for greater protection for animals and the uncompromising prosecution of offenders.
“The USPCA would appeal to anyone with information that may assist the PSNI criminal investigation to make this available to the authorities," the charity said.
Newry and Armagh DUP William Irwin MLA said the damage caused would be "a significant blow" to the farmer.
“I know the farmer who operates this farm and this is certainly a terrible incident with the fire claiming a significant number of sows and piglets," he said.
"Agriculture in general is under pressure with costs of production continuing to rise and a real price squeeze on farmers in the processing and retail end of the scale so to see this type of loss of animals "Hopefully the cause of the fire will be quickly established and I hope that he will be able to rebuild the units and continue pig production in the area."
Yesterday (Monday) an operation was underway to remove dead animals from the property.

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