Pig farm blaze “a devastating” blow

Hundreds of piglets (like those pictured here) were lost in the blaze.

Hundreds of piglets (like those pictured here) were lost in the blaze.

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The fire which has claimed almost 500 animals and gutted farm buildings in Strabane has been described as a devastating blow for the local farmer.

As of late Thursday morning, the animal death toll had risen to 434 piglets (like the ones pictured above) and 32 sows.

The fire broke out on a farm on the Melmount Road earlier this morning.

It has now emerged that fire-fighters managed to save 160 piglets and 16 sows from meeting a similar fate.

SDLP MLA for West Tyrone, Agriculture spokesman Joe Byrne, expressed his sympathy with the farmer at the news of the tragic fire.

Mr Byrne MLA said: “This is devastating news for the farmer. To have lost more than 400 animals in a fire is horrifying.

“It is a huge loss to the individual but also to the entire farming enterprise. A significant farm like this makes a major contribution to the local economy.

“My thoughts are with those involved with this farm as they try to deal with the aftermath of this fire.

Praising fire fighters for ensuring a large number of other pigs were saved from the blaze, Mr Byrne added: “I understand at this stage details about how the fire began are scant, and an investigation will undoubtedly take place, but as anyone who understands the heart people put into rearing livestock know, it will be very difficult for them to deal with”.

The Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service said that dozens of firemen were involved in tackling the blaze, which they were alerted to just before 5.40am.

A spokesman of said six appliances have been involved in tackling the blaze including a Command Support Unit.

He added that two sheds housing pigs were damaged in the blaze, but fire-fighters managed to stop it spreading to four other units on the farm.