WESTFIELD TOWNSHIP, Minn. ― Around 2,000 hogs were killed in a Dodge County barn fire the morning of Thursday, Dec. 3.
A Dodge County dispatcher said crews were called to 14491 Minnesota Highway 30 around 8 a.m. Thursday for a report of a hog barn fire.
Blooming Prairie Fire Department Chief Dean Naatz said the owner of the barn, which contained approximately 2,000 piglets at the time, was on the property when the fire broke out.
"He was in the south half of the building, which was empty, doing some maintenance work and the north half had the pigs in it," Naatz said.
The owner of the barn opened a door to the north side of the building, said Naatz, and "noticed some smoke and called 911." He said when crews first arrived there were visible flames coming from the roof of the barn.
"When we got here a fire was already coming through the center," he said. "And shortly after, it was in the whole north half, and we can't send people into a collapse situation."
Naatz said all of the pigs died from the fire. There were no other injuries.
Owners of the facility were unwilling to give their names or comment on the fire, but the facility name listed on a Dodge County feedlot list is Superior Pork Rodney Garness.
Several farms in the area are contract partners to Holden Farms, but it is unclear if the site that burned was a gestational unit (where sows give birth to piglets) or a nursery unit (where pigs are raised from 21 days after birth until they reach 65 pounds). A spokesperson for Holden Farms said they had "no information" on the site being a contract partner.
The cause of the fire is unknown at the time, said Naatz, but the State Fire Marshal's Office is investigating.
"In a loss like this, it's going to be tough to tell what actually started the fire," Naatz said. "Due to the age of the building and the extent of loss, it could be a number of things honestly."
Fire crews from Claremont, Hayfield and Blooming Prairie were on the scene, he said, and they were able to get the fire under control within an hour.
"Then we had an excavator come in and take off material so we could get at some more stuff underneath," he said.
Within a couple hours the fire was completely put out, said Naatz.
Naatz said in his career he's seen other fires at hog barns, but never quite this large of one.