Farm blaze that killed thousands of pigs ‘accidental’

A farm blaze that killed thousands of pigs in Northern Ireland is being treated as accidental, say fire investigators.

Up to 4,300 pigs perished in the fire on a farm near Bessbrook, County Armagh.

The Northern Ireland Fire Service (NIFRS) said initially that the fire, which broke out at around 5.40am on Saturday (26 April) and lasted seven hours, had been deliberately started.

Five fire appliances, water tankers and a hydraulic platform were used to get the flames under control at the farm in Derrywilligan Road.

But now fire investigators believe “accidental ignition” started the fire and investigations were continuing on Wednesday (30 April) to identify the exact cause.

Read the latest news on farm health and safety

Fire crews battled to evacuate many pigs from the building before the “very intense” flames took hold. But NIFRS said three sheds were destroyed in the blaze.

A major clean-up operation to remove the dead carcasses from the farm is under way.

“Three sheds were totally destroyed in the blaze and unfortunately 800 sows and approximately 3,500 piglets died in the incident,” NIFRS said in a statement.

The farm belongs to Malcolm Keys, a well-known figure in the pig farming industry and a member of the Ulster Farmers’ Union pigs committee.

UUP assembly member Danny Kennedy said an “electrical fault” was being considered as the cause, but investigations were continuing.

The NIFRS spokesman added: “The police are continuing their investigations, but from the fire service’s own investigation, we are treating this fire as accidental.”

See more