Cause of hog barn fire under investigation

Investigators say it’s still not clear what caused a fire that killed an estimated 12,000 pigs last week at a swine production facility northwest of Rosetown, Sask.

Rosetown fire chief Dennis Ogg said fire broke out June 1 just before midnight at a hog barn owned by Olymel, a Quebec-based pork production company.

The barn was located about 45 minutes northwest of Rosetown in the RM of Mountain View, not far from Stranraer, Sask.

When fire crews arrived at the scene, the facility was engulfed in flames. Ogg said.

Fire fighters were denied access to the property by employee who worked at the barn, he added.

Fire crews have the legal authority to access a property without permission for the purpose of containing a fire.

However, Ogg said the barn was already ablaze and there was no chance that it would be extinguished.

There was little or no risk of the fire would spread to other buildings or cause additional damage, he added.

Crews watched the blaze from a distance until approximately 4:30 am the following morning.

Conditions outside were damp due to a recent rainfall.

“Our guys could see the flames from probably seven or eight miles away, so it was completely involved, one end to the other, when we got there,” Ogg said.

“We stayed on the access road and simply watched it. The fire wasn’t really going anywhere. There were no other exposures close by and we’d had some rain earlier so we didn’t have to worry about it spreading to another piece of property.”

“I simply wasn’t going to put my people’s lives in danger for a fire that (had already engulfed the barn) … and wasn’t going anywhere else.”

Police authorities assumed jurisdiction of the fire scene in the early hours of June 2.

Olymel officials said 12 people were employed at the facility. Displaced workers will be offered positions elsewhere within the company

The estimated value of damages has yet to be determined.

About 1,200 sows and nearly 11,000 piglets were killed.

The cause of the blaze is under investigation by the provincial fire commissioner.

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