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Minnesota barn fire kills 1,800 hogs

A barn fire on Saturday at Spring Valley Farms in Darnen Township, Minn., killed 1,800 hogs and caused an estimated $600,000-700,000 in property losses. Photo courtesy of Morris Sun Tribune

MORRIS, Minn. -- A barn fire in western Minnesota on Saturday morning killed about 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 south of Morris in Stevens County.

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 line with a construction material called dairy board, which he said is very flammable and 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 also was 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.