Major fire hits sweeps through hog complex
One man injured, thousands of hogs destroyed
By KIRBY ROSS
Phillips County Review
LONG ISLAND — Husky Hogs, a major economic force in Phillips County, was hit by a devastating fire shortly before noon on Tuesday, June 6.
The blaze tore through three hog barns in an eight-barn farrowing complex, which is located 2 miles southwest of Long Island and 20 miles northwest of Phillipsburg. Raging for several hours, it was fought by fire departments from Phillipsburg, Long Island, Norton and Almena in Kansas, and Orleans, Stamford and Alma in Nebraska.
One of the destroyed hog buildings was over 400 feet long, while the other two were 300 feet and 130 feet. The loss is estimated to be at least $3.5 million, and resulted in the destruction of over 2,000 sows and 7,000 piglets.
With the call coming in around 11:30 a.m., firefighters were initially unable to get at the fires in the barns because of the enclosed nature of farrowing structures and the extreme temperatures that had built up inside.
Starting in one of the barns, the flames quickly enveloped two additional structures. With the flames threatening to spread to the entire complex, at substantial risk to himself, Husky Hogs CEO Terry Nelson climbed aboard a D6 Caterpillar that was on site and forcibly ripped into the structures, opening them up to firefighters.
Once the barns were opened, the blaze was soon brought under control. Nelson and his crews immediately afterward went to work clearing debris to get to the destroyed hogs and remove them to a pit. A number of surviving but injured hogs had to be put down.
The cause of the fire is as yet undetermined, and is currently under investigation by the Kansas Fire Marshal and the Phillips County Sheriff’s Department. Foul play is not suspected.
It is noted that construction work was taking place at the time, and that one of the construction workers received burns to his arms and legs. He was transported to Via Christi Hospital in Wichita, where he is being treated. His burns are not thought to be life-threatening.
On June 7, Terry Nelson spoke briefly to the Phillips County Review, and stated that he intends to rebuild.
He also issued a statement thanking all those who helped during the fire and in its aftermath, saying “the emergency management teams, friends, neighbors and members of the community who gave their time, resources and kind words were invaluable during our time of need. We could not have kept the fire contained without all of you and we are so grateful for your help and support.”
Story by Kirby Ross Phillips County Review firstname.lastname@example.org