From Northumberland Today

1,500 pigs die in fire
Damage estimated at $2 million in inferno that breaks out at Perrytown

By Pete Fisher
Local News - Monday, August 09, 2004 @ 09:00

More than 1,500 pigs were killed in a spectacular inferno Sunday afternoon that enveloped three attached barns in Port Hope.

Damage is estimated at around $2 million in the blaze, which was reported around 1 p.m. along County Road 10 at Perrytown, in the Municipality of Port Hope.

Volunteer firefighters from Ward 2 arrived within minutes of the call and found one section of the U-shaped barn fully engulfed in flames.

A total of 48 firefighters from Baltimore, Bewdley, and Wards 1 and 2 in Port Hope fought in vain to save the three attached barns, located at the home of Abraham Westers.

“There was no way of saving the barn so we concentrated on the barn that was separated and the four propane cylinders,” Assistant Fire Chief Jim Wheeler said.

Firefighters stretched hose lines around to the rear of the structure to protect the 100-pound propane tanks as well as a separate barn located just metres away with more than 300 pigs inside.

At one point, firefighters had to re-group and move back out of the danger zone and the intense heat.

Mr. Westers, who has managed the barn for the last 10 years, said he did the chores in the morning Sunday before going out for lunch.

“A fire truck passed me on my way home and I got a sick feeling in my stomach,” he said.

When he got closer to the barn, he said knew it was the farm he manages.

A total of five people were employed at the pig farm, which is owned by a Toronto man.

More than an hour passed before firefighters had the blaze under control. At that time, they also noticed close to 20 pigs still alive on the ground floor of one of the barns. They were removed from the building.

Assistant Chief Wheeler said it was the most livestock he has seen lost in a fire in his 25 years as a firefighter.

“Whether it’s an animal or human, a number of lives were lost and it’s heartbreaking that you can’t save them.”

Given the extent of the damage, the Ontario Fire Marshal is investigating the blaze.
Electrical problem possible cause of fire

By Pete Fisher
Local News - Tuesday, August 10, 2004 @ 09:00

Fire officials are considering whether Sunday’s $2-million blaze at a Ward 2 pig farm stemmed from an electrical problem.

“Certainly looks like it’s electrical, but we are still trying to find out for sure,” Port Hope Assistant Fire Chief Jim Wheeler said Monday.

Firefighters spent Monday working at the scene on County Road 10 with two investigators from the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office.

The fire killed more than 1,500 pigs in a U-shaped structure in Perrytown that was actually three large barns attached.

Representatives from Ontario’s Agriculture and Environment ministries were also on hand Monday.

Asst. Chief Wheeler noted the amount of waste runoff greatly increased as manure combined with the amount of water firefighters used on the blaze.

Officials were also discussing how to dispose of the carcasses.

A neighbour reported the fire around 1 p.m. Sunday. By the time firefighters arrived with the first pumper three minutes after being dispatched, the barn was fully engulfed in flames.

A total of 48 firefighters from four different fire departments fought the blaze.

After bringing it under control, firefighters noticed more than 20 sows were alive in a lower part of the barn.

The cement ceiling protected the sows somewhat, although some did suffer burns.

“We were able to remove the 20 sows from the barn and take them to another location,” Asst. Chief Wheeler said.

Firefighters remained on scene overnight putting out spot fires that would flare up.

With the intense heat from the blaze, Asst. Chief Wheeler credited firefighters with saving more than 300 pigs in an adjacent barn as well as preventing four propane tanks from exploding.

“The firefighters did an excellent job and everybody did what they had to do,” Asst. Chief Wheeler. “It was exhausting and we needed everybody that was here and it was great with Baltimore and Bewdley helping.”