Almost a week after a fire swept through a hog barn on a Hutterite Colony near Bentley, the cause of the blaze is still under investigation.
Bentley Fire Chief Todd Gustafson said preliminary talks are ongoing and the cause is “up in the air.”
Gustafson said about 50 firefighters from Bentley, Lacombe, Blackfalds, Sylvan Lake and Eckville converged at the scene of the two approximately 8,000 square-foot barns to fight the fire at the colony about five kilometres southeast of Bentley.
Firemen battled the blaze beginning at about 6:45 Monday morning. Unfortunately, when they arrived at the fire, smoke was already pouring out of one of the hog barns “We started to see a partial collapse,” Gustafson said, adding it was clear backup help would be needed.
Firemen fought hard to ensure the fire did not extend into the second hog barn which was attached by a corridor.
“We had things under control by lunchtime,” Gustafson said.
Most of the pigs in the north barn died as a result of the fire and more than 4,000 animals were lost, said Gustafson.
However, some were moved out in time and approximately 3,000 pigs in the south barn were saved.
The story of two dogs that were saved is less dramatic than the rescue of thousands of pigs, but for their owner James Hofer, no less important.
James did not want to talk about the fire, but Rosie Hofer said the dogs were his best friends and he went in and brought them out of the burning building himself.
“The dogs were so happy, they were actually whining when they got out,” she said.
Rosie Hofer said the fire was like a bad dream.
She said cleanup is ongoing and some of the saved hogs have been returned and some are being looked after by other farmers.
She said the malfunction of a new feeding system was thought to have been the cause of the fire, but it has been checked out and “everything seems to be fine.”