More than 1,000 pigs killed in Lancaster Co. fire

A fast-spreading barn fire is responsible for killing more than 1,000 hogs in Lancaster County.

The fire, which broke out around 8:30 a.m. on Monday in Stevens, destroyed two large barns and killed hundreds of pigs inside.

See video from WGAL-TV here.

Thick smoke poured from two barns that housed 1,400 breeding pigs as employees, who escaped unharmed, rushed to save as many pigs as they could  including ten-day old piglets, according to WGAL.

"It's very emotional," farm manager Lori Stone told the TV station. "I've watched a lot of pigs die I couldn't save. It's been hard just trying to get in and get them out."
East Cocalico Township police investigator Brian Dilliplaine said the fire started accidentally in the corner of the maintenance building that connected the two barns and housed mechanical equipment.

It took firefighters about three hours to get the fire under control. Both barns were destroyed in the fire.

There was no immediate report of whether the barns had a sprinkler system in place or whether they are required in production agriculture facilities. Commercial dog kennels in Pennsylvania, for instance, are required only to have fire extinguishers on hand.

An official with Farm Sanctuary, a farm animal advocacy group in Watkins Glen, NY, bemoaned the number of animals who died "the most awful deaths imaginable" and called for an investigation into the incident. 

"It has been our experience over our twenty-five years of providing sanctuary for pigs who have been rescued from factory farms and slaughterhouses that they are deeply intelligent and inquisitive animals with the full range of personality and individuality of dogs and cats," said Bruce Friedrich, senior director of strategic initiatives for Farm Sanctuary. 

"In fact, animal behavior scientists have found that pigs are much smarter than dogs and that they possess intellectual capacities beyond those of three-year-old human children. So this fire should be investigated with the same diligence as a similar tragedy in which a building with an equal number of puppies or kittens had burned to the ground; there is no moral difference, and there is no difference from the perspective of the animals who suffered unimaginable fear and the physiological agony of burning to death or suffocating from smoke inhalation."