Nearly 300 pigs perish in farmyard fire

A FARMER has spoken of the “awful” fallout from a fire in one of his pig sheds that left nearly 300 animals dead.

The blaze began in the early hours of yesterday morning at Poplar Hall Farm in Occold, near Eye, inside a piggery shed after an electrical fault in the wet feeding system.

Farmer Simon Brice said the scale of the blaze and the smoke it generated meant that all 288 pigs inside the shed either died straight away or had to be put down afterwards.

Mr Brice said he did not own the pigs, part of a 1,500 strong herd on the farm, but had been fattening them up since Christmas.

He said: “They were ready for the slaughter. It takes five-and-a-half months to do a batch. I own the farm and I’m contracted to fatten them. The pigs are owned by (large scale pig farmer) Malcolm Easey. They’re all cracking pigs.

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“We got them out but had to shoot them because of the smoke. Some were too badly burned.”

Mr Brice said the smell and sound from the shed had been difficult to bear and it had been one of the most awful days of his life.

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He and a small team, including his wife and the farm fieldsman, spent hours yesterday loading up the bodies of the pigs ready for them to be taken off and destroyed.

Fire crews from Eye, Debenham, Stradbroke, Woodbridge, Diss, Leiston and Framlingham had been sent to the farm at about 1am and Pat Dacey, the senior fire officer at the scene, said they were confronted by a “major blaze”.

He said: “It was apparent that the building was well alight. The farmer had isolated the electricity supply to the building but did the right thing as it was clearly not possible for him to fight the fire.

“The first five crews to arrive were all retained staff from rural fire stations and they did a very good job in very difficult circumstances. This really showed their value to the service as a whole.”

He added: “Obviously we try to save life and property wherever possible, but this was a very serious fire.”

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