Hog barn fire ‘could have been much worse’

The cause of this fire has not been determined, but here are some preventive tips:


A hog farm north of Leroy, Sask., is redistributing its stock after a June 18 inferno demolished two barns.

The structural fire killed about 4,500 pigs after nearly 30 firefighters battled the blaze for more than three hours.

“The neighbour across the road reported it and then called me, so I was first on site,” said Jay McGrath, general manager for Sinnett Pork Farm Ltd.

He said the damage could have been much worse, but the farm was transitioning between feed contracts.

“We were changing companies we feed for, so their pigs were moving out of the farm. There would have been four times as many pigs in there if it was full,” he said.

A new contract with a different company is scheduled to bring pigs in July 4, but McGrath said Sinnett has to adjust its game plan.

“We’ve yet to determine what we’re going to do. Right now, (we’ll) probably have to start selling them straight to the U.S.,” he said.

Sinnett Pork Farm Ltd. has two other locations and plans to distribute most of the incoming pigs to those sites.

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According to Humboldt RCMP, the fire was under control by 7:30 p.m., but the blaze destroyed the structures.

Paul Cockell, chief of the Leroy Volunteer Fire Department, said when he arrived the north barn was fully engulfed.

“Initially, our plan was to try and save the south barn so we positioned ourselves in a way that we can try and do so…. It wasn’t long after we were on scene when we realized we were just going to have to go to a defensive role and just provide protection for the surrounding structures,” he said.

Some firefighters stayed at the farm through the night to guard against flare-ups.

Emergency Medical Services from Lanigan, Sask., was on the scene, but found no one was in the barns at the time of the fire. The Humboldt and Englefeld fire departments also attended.

“Everybody came out… bringing water… bringing food. We had farmers coming out with water. It speaks volumes when something like this happens, how everyone comes together and helps each other out,” said Cockell.

Tim Thibault, a former volunteer firefighter, drove to the fire and tweeted it could be seen from Humboldt, Sask., about 50 kilometers away from Sinnett Farms.

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Harvey Wagner, who manages producer services for the Saskatchewan Pork Development Board, said the fire is an unfortunate and tragic situation.

“I don’t know the cause of this fire, but electrical tend to be the most common cause of barn fires, overheated fans. There’s lots of equipment that’s working all the time,” he said.

Sinnett Pork Farm Ltd. said in a written statement that it will try to get the facility rebuilt and running again as quickly as possible.

“This changes a lot of things real quick. We have other barns, so our staff, we will reposition them and definitely won’t be laying people off,” McGrath said.

He said he is overwhelmed by the community’s quick response and the local fire departments’ resolve.

The Saskatchewan Pork Development Board shared its support and condolences for the farm and workers.

“We feel for them and their loss and the hard work ahead to fix it up and clean up and rebuild. We understand their difficulty and we hope the Sinnett family, their family of operations, can resolve this in a good manner,” said Wagner.

Fire prevention tips

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The cause of this fire has not been determined, but here are some preventive tips:

  • Do not overload wiring. Inspect and replace old or defective wiring and chewed cords with new circuits or electrical cords.
  • Keep your barn clean. A buildup of dust, trash or spider webs in the electrical system is a fire hazard.
  • Remove trash and flammable materials from the area around motors and heaters.
  • Heat lamp cords should be short enough that they become unplugged if a lamp falls to the ground.
  • Never permit smoking in barns or near flammable materials.
  • Ensure smoke detectors are functional and undergo regular inspections.
  • Denise

    One pig burnng to death in a barn fire is horriific enough,let alone 4500. There is no way to put a positive spin on this. When is this carnage going to stop? Where are the fire inspectors and proper regulations? The entire wiring in these fire trap barns should replaced every couple of years, as the ammonia, hydrogen sulphide and other pollutants erode the wiring so quickly. Monitoring of the wiring should be as routine as feeding. No excuses accepted.
    These fires are all too common an occurence but who cares? The design of these barns make them certain death traps. No chance of escape for these creatures ,just the most painful death imaginable.

    • Cody

      Denise, your posts are beginning to become utterly ridiculous. It seems like you have absolutely no sense of reality in the fantasy world you are living in. Do you have any idea what the cost of inspecting/replacing the wiring in an entire barn every couple years would be? And who would be expected to absorb that expense? Most likely the farmer, right? God forbid that would be passed on to the consumer by elevated pork prices… These pork farmers already operate on tight budgets and I guarantee none of them like to see something like this happen. The reality is things like this do unfortunately happen and most times is out of our control. So give your head a shake and think before you come out with these far-fetched outrageous ideas.
      Thanks

      • John Fefchak

        Cody….your concerns, I gather, are with the MONEY it would cost!
        Denise expresses her concerns about the animals, and how it costs
        “their lives.” Quite a difference. During the several years on our family farm we also raised hogs, and never once did we have a fire consuming our animals. You see,
        pigs back then were raised in a much different manner; in open spaces, with lots of fresh air and straw bedding. The animals were being raised in a healthy fashion that God would have smiled upon.

        • Cody

          I understand where you are coming from and yes I raise livestock as well and always make sure they are well cared for. What really gets me is that you make it sound like these farms could care less about the loss of these pigs’ lives, however I guarantee you that is not the case. The problem is that there is no way to produce the volume of pork that is needed in an “open spaces” environment. Times change… things are different now because they have to be in order to keep up with rising demand. That’s just the way it is. Get over it.

          • John Fefchak

            Rising Demand….For the most part Cody, 6 % of the Industrial pork raised in Manitoba is consumed by Manitobans,…the rest is exported.!
            This hog industry is a ‘ meat exporting business’! It is shipped away,leaving us and our water sources to deal with all the manure waste and pollution that is produced and left behind for Manitobans to deal with. People in other provinces and countries have come to realize this. There are some large hog producers in Manitoba who have converted to the open concept of raising their animals and have announced success in doing so. Yes, times change. They changed and are producing animals in a better environment,and they managed to Get over it! quite nicely. I can only suggest THEY cared more about their animal husbandry methods and did something about it to change.

          • Cody

            I don’t care how much is exported, there is still rising demand for food worldwide. …. Just because the pork isn’t consumed in Manitoba doesn’t mean there isn’t demand for it.

          • John Fefchak

            Demand for it! People in other provinces and countries have come to realize this. They would rather import,than raise hogs in a factory type operation for their needs.
            They also know and realize that Manitoba has become The
            Manure Pile of Modern Civilization. Smart People.

          • cody

            Great! and what percentage of pork in Canada is being raised in this manner? I have no idea but I would venture to guess a very small percentage. Kind of like organic farming comprises a small percentage of crop farming in Canada.. yes there is room for organic farming because there are people out there that are brainwashed into thinking that conventional farming is evil and unhealthy (a lot of times with very little scientific evidence to back their claims)…but there is no way that we could produce enough food if all crops were raised “organically”. End of story

          • Denise

            Speaking of being brainwashed, the biotech industry and agribusiness have done an amazing job of luring the farmers into their tangled web of lies, deceit and pseudo-science. However, this is nothing new. This has been going on for a long time and has been very effective and fabulous for sales. Unfortunately, it it destroying people’s lives and our environment.
            I don’t think we can get out of this mess unless farmers wake up to what is happening here. Government won’t do anything. Their hands are tied by big business. Big Ag doesn’t care as long as the money keeps pouring in.
            In Manitoba, the hog slurry is piling up on the flood plain and running into Lake Winnipeg. I guess that’s okay ,as long as we put a big fence around the lake and keep everybody away from the toxic bluegreen water. Right?

          • richard

            End of what story Cody? … Notwithstanding the usual fear, loathing and envy of organic farmers (who you never hear complaining of the price???) , you may wish to try to come to terms with the facts of the new world…..No industry will indefinitely be free to externalize their overhead onto the commonwealth (environment), costs accruing to the public. Your faith tells you that you are feeding the world….in fact you are nothing more than part of the cheap food delusion that leads to a lot of fat asses parading around the western world in a state of entitled gluttony…..

          • John Fefchak

            I don’t care how much is exported !The concept of feeding the world, is a corporate construct fiction designed solely for corporate wealth, which is also causing a great many of our ecosystem, water and environment problems,

          • Guest

            Yes, you are right John. There is enough food in the world for everyone. The problem is poverty that does not allow some people to buy the food they need.

          • Guest 777

            Ok suppose everyone in the world could afford to buy food… Would there be enough? And if not would you still condemn modern agriculture and “factory pork farms”? Do you believe that because you can afford organic or “ethical” food, that is the only way it should be produced? Should others be forced to go hungry needlessly because you feel that food can only be produced to your standards? All the while knowing it would be too expensive for many to buy including families right here in Canada.

          • John Fefchak

            OH!…now I understand, the factory farms are for the benefit of mankind and a gift for existing. What a bunch of hooey!
            Modern meat production, in which thousands of animals are packed into barns for concentrated feeding operations, has proven to be efficient and profitable, but comes with its own set of problems. And those problems are not needed or wanted.

            http://www.ctvnews.ca/sci-tech/water-air-quality-concerns-heighten-conflict-with-pig-farms-1.2238324

          • Cody

            Yes “factory farms” (as you refer to them) and modern agriculture is a gift to mankind because it allows us to produce more food on fewer acres and at a more affordable price.

          • John Fefchak

            You didn’t happen to address the problems though. Best left
            alone…I guess. Yes, I refer to them as “factory farms” because there are is no other name suitable for this type of operation.
            Even Guest 777 agrees.

          • Denise

            Manitoba has become the “North Carolina of the North”. Nothing to be proud of. But no public outrage either!
            Just for a reminder. Hog slurry contains the following list of toxins:
            Phosphorus
            Nitrates
            Ammonia
            Methane
            Hydrogen sulfide
            Cyanide
            Heavy metals
            Antibiotics and other drugs
            This is what going into our air and waterways untreated ( Red River and Lake Winnipeg)
            Unlike North Carolina, though, we have these huge bodies of “fresh water”?? lakes, which are dying from an over -abundance of phosphorus (hog slurry and other farm fertilizers which are overused on farmland ) leaching into Lake Winnipeg. Phosphorus ,as we all know, is food for the toxic blue green algae blooms in Lake Winnipeg.
            I don’t how many millions of hog we have in Manitoba, right now, but it’s several million and they are expanding the hog population. New barns going up in the southwestern part of the province.
            That is like having several millions of people living ( just in southern Manitoba), without proper sanitation and water treatment plants. Imagine!
            Each pig creates 4X the waste a human does.
            Factory farms are not required to use anaerobic digesters to deal with the waste and now more new barns are being built!
            Hard to watch, but this is like a slow train wreck .
            ecowatch.com/2016/06/22/northcarolina-cafos/

          • John Fefchak

            Your words resonate “the truth” Something a lot of people would rather not hear. Thank You.
            The Red Tape Reduction Task Force being conceived needs to be reminded that the enactment of Save Lake Winnipeg Act was totally supported in the Manitoba legislature in June of 2011. The NDP government passed the Act to keep phosphorus out of Lake Winnipeg, cracking down on hog manure entering our waterways and protecting wetlands.
            I don’t think they like to be reminded either.

          • Harold

            Poverty is not a problem. Poverty is the result of the problem. Removing the instruments of the problem is the solution. Who are the instruments of the problem. If poverty exists, It is likely the ones that we have given our money, and our own earth resources to, that are the cause. Charity begins at home, and from there it extends outward. This is why we are still being asked for donations from the little we have left. The Government, Banks and Corporations make embarrassing profits, but given those same profits in our hands, would poverty exist?
            What can a few Canadians do? Nothing. What can the majority of Canadians do? Say “sorry”.

        • Cody

          Secondly, yes MONEY is the issue. These farmers have to be in the business to make money!!! Is there anybody on here who would go to work knowing that their employer would not be paying them for their time? Show of hands?? ANYONE.
          Why do you feel like MONEY is not an issue in this case, what if insurance companies made it mandatory for you to have your wiring inspected and/or replaced annually to protect you and your family from a fire? Would you be ok with paying for that out of your own pocket?
          Enough with the double standards people…

      • Denise

        Of course, it seems utterly ridiculous to replace the wiring every couple of years and it WOULD be VERY expensive! Personally,I don’t care who bears the expense but these barn fires have to stop, one way or another.
        The number of barn fires cannot be defended as this is the price of doing factory hog business. As it stands, the regulations are weak(Are there any?) or not enforced,at all.
        These barns are fire traps. Absolutely ,no doubt about it.
        Here’s an idea. How about installing exit doors on the pens,to the outside, so these poor animals have half a chance to escape in the event of a fire? Automatic doors open when smoke alarms go off.
        Ideally, the pigs should be outdoors when weather permits.
        I know this climate makes that difficult and involves more work. However, then, the wiring of the barns would not be under such constant wear and tear.,all the time. The wiring wouldn’t corrode as quickly, and need replacing and repairing,as often. Isn’t that cost effective? Electricians aren’t cheap and not called as often as they should be.
        With all this wonderful technology, nowdays, you would think there would be less death and destruction in factory barns,instead there’s catastrophic events like this happening more often than ever.
        Building codes and regulations for these factory barns are very sadly lacking.
        This is reality not fantasy, otherwise we wouldn’t be witnessing so many barn fires.
        I’m just trying to find some solutions. What is the hog industry doing about it?

  • CG14

    some would also argue that god gave us as humans knowledge so that we could adapt to change. The reality is that without seed treatments, herbicides/pesticides/fungicides our ability to produce enough food would be in question.

    God also gave us horses as a means of transportation.. do you own a vehicle? It sure would be a lot more environmentally friendly if you would travel everywhere by horseback right? Pretty hypocritical to say modern farming is bad for the environment in comparison to organic farming… All the while you are driving around in your car polluting the environment when you could be driving around a team of horses…. Double standard? I think so… If you want to preach how everyone else should do EVERYTHING in their power to save the environment then maybe you should do so yourself… practice what you are preaching people…Otherwise sit down..

    • John Fefchak

      “some would also argue that god gave us as humans knowledge so that we could adapt to change”.
      My thinking CG14 is a little different.
      God did not instill any of us with knowledge. However, in the creation of humans,we were provided with a brain. And with that, we have the ability to be able to make individual choices.
      The consequences or goodness of choices is therefore
      something of human choosing. The responsibility rests with those, influenced by self study, propaganda or advertisement to make those choices. Good …Bad or Indifferent.
      Final decision(s) based on any choices made however, is the most important factor; as greed and profit are extremely powerful and very often the key influence.

    • Harold

      I think i’ll stand up thank you. With your analogy of God’s will, I’m driving my god given car, as an adaptation to change, by a god given human knowledge. Moreover, I pinpointed two separate standards, not a double standard as you suggested. Organic standard and non-Organic standard. The double standard was your doing buy drawing a comparison between cars and agriculture. I eat only organic food’s. That said, is not an act of – “practicing what I preach”, it is in fact – practicing what I know. Practicing what you know, requires no preaching nor approval to do so.
      God gave us Horses? Like any captured animal, you have to break it’s god given nature and spirit first. Do we owe the animal a god given care in return? Does it look like a factory feed lot for the elite?
      I am sure that some would argue that a God in heaven just might be sitting back admitting that he “screwed up” in agriculture. I’m sure one could argue that God sent his son Monsanto into the world to bring us everlasting life. With-In the community of Christians, it seems that God’s road is the hard road, and that Jesus Christ, and maybe the late Mother Theressa, just may be able to attest to it.
      Between Comment’s and preaching, each have defining characteristics,

  • Denise

    By the way, when was the last time you had your well tested?

  • Denise

    There’s no reason pigs can’t be outdoors when the weather permits. Personally,I would rather smell normal outdoor pig manure than those toxic,horribly offensive gases that emanate from factory hog barns and travel through the air insulting whole communities.
    “OUTDOOR production (in WA) also resulted in considerably reduced GHG emissions.”
    http://www.thepigsite.com/swinenews/42034/study-finds-pig-ecoshelters-drive-down-greenhouse-gas-emissions/
    Exposure to sunshine and fresh air cut down on diseases and poor health in animals. No different than what people need! Better meat quality,too.
    If it cuts down on greenhouse gases (GHG)that’s even better, don’t you think?