An estimated 5,000 pigs were killed in a fire at a pig farm near Hawarden, Iowa, over the weekend.
According to the Hawarden fire chief, the fire broke out in one of the farm’s barns on May 28 just before 9:00 a.m.
By the time responding fire crews arrived at the farm, the building was completly engulfed in flames, and a second building had also caught fire.
Nine area fire departments rushed to provide assistance; the Hawarden Police Department, Iowa State Patrol, Hawarden Ambulance, Ireton Ambulance and Sioux Center Ambulance also were on hand.
Despite these efforts, the buildings were a complete loss and 5,000 pigs were killed in the blaze.
Though the fire remains under investigation, officials suspect the fire “started when one of the pigs dislodged a heat lamp causing it to fall onto straw bedding.”
Media outlets from the region covered the fire, sharing the tragedy online. Many, including activists and urban consumers, reacted by calling for the owners to be “charged with animal cruelty,” drawing from the news of last week’s abuse allegations at a Nebraska pig facility.
As one person responded, this tragedy is not due to abuse.
“What in the world makes you think that these animals were abused? Do you realize that when straw catches on fire it spreads rapidly! I'm sure the workers did what they could do to try and save them, but the pigs can be replaced, human lives cannot. Yes it's sad that the pigs died, but only so much could have been done!” she said.
Another added, “These farmers lost THOUSANDS of dollars. Why would they abuse an animal they are dependent on for their livelihood?”