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Weekend barn fire in Stevens County kills 1800 hogs

A barn fire at Spring Valley Farms killed 1,800 hogs and caused an estimated $600,000 to $700,000 in property losses. (Submitted Photo)1 / 4
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MORRIS – A barn fire in Darnen Township early Saturday morning killed approximately 1,800 hogs and caused nearly $700,000 in property damage, the Morris Fire Department reported.

The barn and hogs are the property of Lowell Moser and Loren Schmidgall of Spring Valley Farms.

About 8:15 a.m. Saturday, the Morris Fire Department received a call about a barn fire off U.S. Highway 59. When Morris firefighters arrived, the barn was fully engulfed in flames.

None of the 1,800 hogs in the barn were able to escape.

Morris Fire Chief Dave Dybdal said hog barns are lined with a construction material called dairy board, which he said is very flammable and barns are built without firewalls.

“So fire spread can happen very quickly,” Dybal said. “Most of the flooring is constructed with a plastic type material, so once it catches fire and melts it collapses in the pits 8 feet deep under the flooring. There is a also a presence of methane gas in certain areas with these type of buildings for hogs.”

Firefighters from Chokio, Hancock and Donnelly also responded. About 45 firefighters were on the scene for just over four hours, using between 60,000 and 75,000 gallons of water the fight the blaze. However, the building, which was built in 2007, was a total loss, Dybdal said.

The cause is still under investigation by the state fire marshal, Dybdal said.

Early estimates on property loss from the fire marshal is between $600,000 and $700,000, which includes the building and hogs.

Assistance at the scene was also provided from Stevens County Ambulance, Stevens County Sheriff's Department. The Minnesota State Patrol helped shut down Highway 59 South because of the heavy smoke until the fire was under control.