Pedigree pig farm blaze: ‘I’m just devastated - we’ve lost some blood lines forever’

A blaze which killed 2000 pigs at a pedigree breeding farm in Kilkeel has resulted in the permanent loss of a number of genetic lines, its owner has said.

Tuesday, 8th September 2020, 2:49 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th September 2020, 3:23 pm

Farm owner Trevor Shields surveys the scene of devastation as up to 2,000 pigs have been killed in a fire in Kilkeel. Photo: Pacemaker.
Farm owner Trevor Shields surveys the scene of devastation as up to 2,000 pigs have been killed in a fire in Kilkeel. Photo: Pacemaker.

A blaze which killed 2000 pigs at a pedigree breeding farm in Kilkeel has resulted in the permanent loss of a number of genetic lines, its owner has said.

Four fire appliances attended the blaze on the Carrigenagh Road at 9pm on Monday night and attempted to stop the blaze spreading to other buildings.

The fire, which is believed to have been accidental, was brought under control at around 11.50pm.

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Up to 2,000 pigs have been killed in a fire in Kilkeel, County Down. Pacemaker.

Trevor Shields, the owner of Glenmarshall Sires Ltd, said he had lost about 140 sows with litters, adding up to around 2000 pigs.

Every animal in the building died.”It was a considerable chunk of our business,” he told the News Letter. “It is totally devastating.”

He arrived 45mins after the alarm was raised as he was in Armagh at the time. The animals died quite quickly, he says.

“I am devastated. Words can’t express it. It has happened and it is just sinking in now. It is desperate.”

The pigs were inside a large shed at Carrigenagh Road when the fire broke out

He breeds boars to provide artificial insemination for the pig industry for commercial use.

“A lot of these animals were bred for breeding purposes. There are years and years - generations - of breeding in these animals that can’t be replaced.

“Genetically if you lose a line it is gone forever. There are lines here that we will never recover. Gone.””We have passion for our animals. Words can’t express the way we are feeling right now.”

Forensic examiners will arrive tomorrow but he suspects it was probably caused by an electrical fault.

Up to 2,000 pigs have been killed in a fire in Kilkeel, County Down

The type of building used to house the pigs is particularly vulnerable to a blaze because there is so much insulation in them, he said.

Mr Shields lived fours miles away but was in Armagh when he was alerted.

His son, who lives nearby, was there quickly and suffered minor burns to his feet in the incident.

However he was treated in the Royal Victoria Hospital and has now been released home again.The fire broke out at around 9pm and the Fire Service arrived only eight minutes after being called.

The company was insured but the clear-up will be very messy and stressful, he said.

He employs up to seven staff who will work together to clear up after a forensic examination. No jobs will be put at risk.Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service Assistant Group Commander Martin Healy said the fire was well developed when he and colleagues arrived on the scene.

“The firefighters worked in obviously very difficult conditions – in darkness and underfoot – to extinguish the fire,” he said.

“Actually we had to try to protect the other sheds as there’s a lot of other pigs housed in them and thankfully we were able to stop the fire spreading to those sheds.

“But unfortunately we were unable to save between 1,500 and 2,000 pigs within the shed the main blaze was contained in.”

He told BBC Radio Ulster the incident was a “very difficult scene to witness”.

“We spoke with the farm owner and obviously our sympathies go out to him and all his staff on the devastating loss and he said himself he was devastated for the loss that he did suffer.”

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