Electrical problem ignited fire that killed hundreds of hogs

Published: Saturday, Nov. 5 2011 10:16 p.m. MDT

Workers walk through the burned remains of a hog barn at Circle Four Farms near Milford. An electrical malfunction caused the fire Friday night.

Matt Powers, Deseret News

MILFORD — Investigators say an electrical malfunction ignited a fire at a barn housing hogs at the Circle Four Farm, killing what appears to be hundreds of animals.

The fire was reported about 8:30 p.m. Friday and by the time fire crews traveled from Minersville and Milford to the fire, the building had burned to the ground and the fire had mostly burnt itself out, said Les Whitney, emergency response coordinator for Beaver County.

“They go very fast because they're a naturally ventilated building,” Whitney said. “They have fans on the end of the barn that draws air through the building and if there’s a fire that starts it draws fire from one end of the building to the other pretty fast.”

The affected only one of the 40 barns, which each house about 2,000 hogs. Whitney said the damage estimate was $700,000.

A spokesman for Circle Four could not be reached Saturday, and fire officials didn't have an exact number of hogs killed in the blaze.

Video shot from KSL television's Chopper 5 showed crews walking through hundreds of burned animals on the floor of the building. No walls were standing and sections of what appeared to be either the roof or walls were either stacked off to the side of the burned building or on top of the dead animals.

The video also showed charred hogs being dumped into a large pit.

Circle Four is the state's largest hog farm, raising more than 1 million hogs and employing about 500 people in west Beaver County. It is part of Murphy-Brown LLC, the livestock production subsidiary of Smithfield Food and the largest producer of pork in the world.

E-mail: acabrero@desnews.com, mbrown@desnews.com, Twitter: ksl_alexcabrero

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