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Cause of barn blaze under investigation

A scorched silo and associated infrastructure is all that is left after two hog barns were destroyed in a major fire on Highway 3 near Townsend Monday morning. The Haldimand fire department reports 4,000 animals died in the disaster. MONTE SONNENBERG / SIMCOE REFORMER

A scorched silo and associated infrastructure is all that is left after two hog barns were destroyed in a major fire on Highway 3 near Townsend Monday morning. The Haldimand fire department reports 4,000 animals died in the disaster. MONTE SONNENBERG / SIMCOE REFORMER

JARVIS  - 

As many as 4,000 hogs perished in a livestock fire Monday west of Jarvis.

The fire occurred at a large hog operation on the north side of Highway 3 between Keith Richardson Parkway and the Woodhouse East Quarter Line Road.

The property is located in Haldimand near the Norfolk-Haldimand county line. As such, Haldimand firefighters and Haldimand OPP took charge of the emergency.

The fire was called in around 1 a.m. Two barns joined by a covered passage were destroyed. The farm was a breeding operation with hogs ranging from piglets to sows.

Monday afternoon, Haldimand fire chief Jason Gallagher said the barn on the east side of the property was fully engulfed when firefighters arrived. The barn west of it had also caught fire. Gallagher reports no animals survived the disaster.

“It was tough for the firefighters that it involved so much livestock,” Gallagher said. “A lot of them are farmers too.”

Total damage is estimated in the range of $4.5 million. Gallagher said the property was insured. The operation was under corporate management. It was not locally owned and no one lived on site.

Like many large hog operations, this one is located at the end of a long driveway near the centre of the concession.

The length of the driveway posed a challenge. Firefighters needed to lay 4,000 feet of four-inch hose to properly service the pumpers and aerial truck as they extinguished the flames.

The buildings on site also posed a challenge. An excavator was called in immediately so firefighters could get at the hot spots. Because an excavator was involved, Gallagher said it will be difficult to determine a cause.

Firefighters from six stations in Haldimand responded to the alarm. Two stations from Norfolk provided tanker support.

The Office of the Ontario Fire Marshal has been notified, as has the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs. Gallagher said a deadstock company will be called in to conduct a cleanup.

Highway 3 between the Richardson Parkway and East Quarter Line was closed to through traffic for about eight hours. Highway 3 re-opened around 9 a.m.

MSonnenberg@postmedia.com