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Heartache for farmer as 100 animals die in blaze

By Claire Weir

A farmer today told of his heartache after 100 animals died following a blaze on his farm in Co Londonderry.

Up to 70 pigs, 25 head of cattle and two dogs perished in the fire in Ballykelly last night.

Fire chiefs today said the sight that confronted them was "harrowing" , and described how animals were hysterical.

Although the cost in animals' lives was high, the farmer today said many more would have perished had it not been for the actions of neighbours and members of the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service.

Neighbours and firefighters battled for hours to save the livestock.

On the farm at Tirmacoy Road in Ballykelly, efforts were under way today to establish how the fire broke out and exactly how many animals died.

Devastated farmer Ian Townley said he had popped out with his daughter and returned to find his property ablaze.

Fighting back tears, Mr Townley explained: "We're looking at 25 cattle and about 70 pigs."

He said more cattle may also die. "It would break your heart, you wouldn't wish it on anybody," he said.

"You work so hard then stuff is away from you in minutes.

"But if it wasn't for my neighbours there would be 150 cattle dead. I can't thank everybody enough.

"The Fire Service were great but there is not a lot you can do, I'm just hopeful we can bounce back."

Fire and Rescue Service District Commander, William Lynch said that the scene was harrowing.

"When we arrived a hayshed was alight, which contained 200 bales of barley straw and 100 hay bales," he said.

"More important were the animals in the shed beside it. There were 20 to 30 cattle and 40 pigs and two dogs lost. It was an horrific scene.

Belfast Telegraph


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