Northern Ireland

Pig farm fire: Thousands of pigs killed in County Armagh blaze

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Media captionThe fire took hold at the farm on Derrywilligan Road, Mullaghglass, which is just outside Bessbrook village in County Armagh

Thousands of pigs have been killed in a fire at a County Armagh farm.

The Fire Service initially said the blaze near Bessbrook on Saturday was thought to be arson, but later said it was probably accidental.

Firefighters were called at 05:40 BST and took seven hours to bring the blaze under control at Derrywilligan Road.

Local UUP assembly member Danny Kennedy said it was a "very traumatic loss" for the farm's manager, who told him that about 500 sows and 2,000 piglets died.

"The clear view is that it's down to an electrical fault, but of course investigations are continuing," he said.

'Very intense'

DUP assembly member William Irwin said it was a "terrible incident".

He said he hoped the farmer "would be able to rebuild the units and continue pig production in the area".

The blaze also destroyed three sheds at the pig farm.

Five fire appliances and a command support unit were involved in the operation to bring the blaze under control, while crews also brought in water tankers and a hydraulic platform from nearby towns and villages.

The blaze, which the Fire Service described as "very intense", was extinguished by 12:45 BST on Saturday.

An operation to remove dead animals from the property has been taking place on Monday.

Investigations are continuing to establish what caused the fire.