Massive blaze kills up to 2,000 pigs as devastating fire rips through farm
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A devastating fire has killed up to 2,000 pigs after tearing through a farm.
Firefighters were called to the blaze at the Carrigenagh Road farm in Kilkeel, Northern Ireland, shortly before 9pm on Monday.
They managed to stop the flames spreading from a shed housing pigs to other buildings on the farm in County Down.
Four fire engines were dispatched, and it was eventually brought under control by 11.50pm.
However, 1,500-2,000 of the animals were lost to the flames, and one firefighter sustained minor burns to his feet.
Owner Trevor Shields told the BBC: "In layman's terms it's the maternity ward and there were 140 sows in there with baby piglets, up to about three weeks old.
"Total number somewhere around 2,000 and they are just gone, which is very sad."
He added: "It is very emotional, it's actually difficult for me to even talk about it."
The farm has previously won prizes at the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society's Balmoral Show.
Mr Shields continued: "Our losses are quite substantial because this is one of the top breeding farms in Europe and there's bloodlines that have just been wiped away," he said.
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"We'll just have to put the pieces together and get over it because they are gone.
"Some of the lines may still be here on the farm in other parts, but there will be lines that have been lost. Some of those could go back as far as 40 years.
"The animals that we show at Balmoral are born from 1 September. Unfortunately they are gone."
Sinead Bradley, Social Democratic and Labour Party member of the legislative assembly for South Down, told the Belfast News Letter: “The scale of the fire and the traumatic scenes are shocking.
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“I wish to place on record my thanks to the special animal rescue teams and the fire crews attending the scene.
“The farmer and his extended family will inevitably will be distressed by the events,
“I offer them not just my thoughts but my support in finding their way through and out of this catastrophic situation”.
Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service Assistant Group Commander Martin Healy said the fire had already spread by the time emergency services arrived.
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He added: “The firefighters worked in obviously very difficult conditions – in darkness and underfoot – to extinguish the fire.
“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.”
Commander Healy told BBC Radio Ulster: “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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