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Co Down farmer devastated after over 2,000 pigs killed in fire

A Co Down farmer has spoken of his devastation after more than 2,000 of his pigs were killed in a fire.

Trevor Shields, who runs Glenmarshal Pedigree Pig farm in Kilkeel, said he was confronted with the blaze at the farrowing house after being alerted by phone around 9pm on Monday evening.

The shed housed 140 sows and their litters of piglets - around three weeks old - around 2,100 animals in total.

His son suffered burns to his feet after rescuing a family dog from a nearby shed and received treatment in hospital.

The farmer told how his son got the dog out "thankfully safe and well" but sustained "minor burns to his feet because the ground was so hot".

Mr Shields told the Belfast Telegraph yesterday the animals, which were large white and landrace breeds, belonged to bloodlines which stretched back to the start of the family business, which was established 45 years ago.

Four fire appliances attended the scene in Carrigenagh Road and worked to prevent the flames spreading from a shed housing the pigs to adjacent farm buildings.

The blaze, which is believed to have been accidental, was brought under control close to midnight.

Recalling the scene after rushing from Armagh where he had been at a meeting, he explained: "When I arrived the fire engines were already here. The fire brigade were here in eight minutes.

"You could see the flames miles away. It was devastating."

The pig breeder added: "There were (pig) bloodlines which go back generations, back to when the farm was started 45 years ago, that are now gone forever.

"It was devastating, totally devastating. This is my livelihood".

He added: "I have lost breeding animals I can't replace."

Mr Shields said that he had been told that the animals died quite quickly, mainly from smoke inhalation.

A forensic investigation is to take place today, Trevor revealed, adding that he believed the cause was an electrical fault.

He also praised the efforts of fire crew in halting the spread of the blaze.

"They need to be commended for that because they saved a lot of animals' lives by their sterling work," Mr Shields added.

Martin Healy, NI Fire and Rescue Service assistant group commander, said it was unfortunate that crew had been unable to save the pigs, and offered his sympathies to Mr Shields.

"The firefighters worked in obviously very difficult conditions, in darkness and underfoot, to extinguish the fire," he said.

Belfast Telegraph