Olive Township barn fire kills 280 pigs

Almost 300 pigs were killed in a barn fire Wednesday evening, according to Olive Township Fire Chief Russ Hirdes. The barn was a total loss. Firefighters were called to 6928 120th Avenue at 7:26 p.m. after a motorist saw a "strange-colored steam' coming out of the cooling fan areas, and stopped to investigate, Hirdes said. "He saw fire and called 911 right away,' he said. "By the time we got there it was cooking.'
Becky Vargo
Apr 28, 2011

Hirdes sent out a call for additional help and ended up with personnel and equipment from eight area fire departments on the scene.

The section of 120th Avenue between Blair and Tyler was also closed to traffic until Olive Township firefighters cleared the scene at 12:18 this morning, Hirdes said.

Due to the extent of the fire, fire fighters could not save either the pigs or the barn, the chief said. Their initial effort was concentrated on protecting two nearby buildings, and keeping the fire away from a large propane tank located directly behind the blazing barn.

Hirdes said the pigs belonged to Ben Kamps who was renting the space from the property owner, Cal Weener. The pigs were ready to go to market and would have been shipped out in the next day or two, the chief said. The value of the pigs was set at $48,000.

There was no damage estimate for the barn as of press time this morning, Hirdes said.

Preliminary investigation indicates an electrical fire started in the northwest corner where the electrical service enters the barn, Hirdes said. But the cause is still under investigation

Assisting at the scene were fire fighters from Blendon and Robinson townships. Port Sheldon, Allendale, Holland and Zeeland townships provided tankers, while a light truck came from Zeeland, Hirdes said. The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department provided traffic control.

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