Farmer's £200k bill after blaze kills 100 animals
A farmer who lost around 100 animals in a blaze at his farm in Co Londonderry has estimated that the disaster would cost him up to £200,000.
Ian Townley spoke from the wreckage of his yard on Tirmacoy Road, outside Ballykelly.
"I went out for a run with my daughter at about 2pm on Sunday and I got back about a quarter of an hour later and the whole place was in flames and my neighbours were trying to get the stock out," he said yesterday.
"It was panic stations. I lost about 70 pigs and 25 cattle, but thankfully my neighbours got 50 pigs and 30 cattle out. But there will probably be more cattle dead after the vet has been."
The charred remains of two holstein heifers lay close by, while a number of pigs, shot by a vet in the aftermath of the fire, could be seen in an adjacent field.
Two dogs initially thought to have died in the fire had in fact run off in panic, but returned to the farm yesterday.
Mr Townley added: "With the dead stock, and the building, the hay and the feed, I'm looking at a loss of £200,000, maybe more.
"We're coming into winter now too and I just don't know what I'm going to do.
"Losing the buildings was bad enough but the stock going was hard.
"I've reared all of the cattle since they were calves, I could tell a story about every one of them, I'm not ashamed to say I've cried over it.
"I live in that building (beside the yard) and the first thing I saw in the morning was this place."
Police say that they do not think that the fire was suspicious. A shed containing up to 300 bales of straw and hay caught fire before spreading to the pens where the animals were kept.
Mr Townley said that he was now hoping to rebuild it.
"I still can't take in what's happened, but I hope we can start again. My friends and neighbours have been fantastic. Without them I would have lost everything. It's a tight community around here and I can't thank them enough.
"Now we have to look at what we are going to do next."