Fire kills thousands of sows in Hardwick
HARDWICK — Fire departments from eight different counties responded to a fire at 9:30 p.m. Sunday at New Horizon Farms Facility (NHF).
“It appears to be a total loss,” said Bob Taubert, Managing Partner of NHF, on Monday.
The farm lost approximately 3,700 sows and many piglets. Firefighters struggled to battle the blaze due to the extreme temperatures and high winds on the coldest day of this winter to date.
The Hardwick Fire Department was one of the first to respond to the scene.
“When I got on the scene our crew was already shooting water on the west side of the building,” explained Aaron Altman, assistant chief with the department. “Then we heard there was a propane tank at the east of the building, but the building was so wide by the time we got there, the smoke was so thick and black that we couldn’t pinpoint where the tank was. So we decided to get out of there before anyone got hurt.”
In all, eight fire departments responded: Edgerton, Hardwick, Jasper, Luverne, Beaver Creek, Hills and Pipestone, as well as Garretson, S.D. The Rock County Ambulance was also called to the scene.
Bone-chilling temperatures of well below zero also affected the fire departments’ ability to effectively extinguish the flames.
“We had some pumps and hoses freeze up, which made things extremely difficult,” Altman said. “We even had guys rotating in and out of the truck just to warm up.”
The Hardwick Fire Department did not leave the scene until 2 a.m., and some crews didn’t leave until 4 a.m., added Altman.
“We are thankful no one was on site when the fire started and no one was hurt during the fire,” Taubert said.
The facility represents about 20 percent of hog production for NHF.
“We remain committed to supporting our local communities,” Taubert said. “We will definitely rebuild just as soon as we can.”
Ten employees worked at the farm, and NHF is working to reassign them during the rebuilding process.
“I want to thank the fire departments for their good work,” Taubert said. “It was just an impossible night, and we appreciate their efforts to fight the fire.”
The cause of the fire has yet to be determined. NHF is working closely with authorities and its insurance company to determine the cause, as well as to clean up the site.