MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A fire chief in southern Minnesota says more than 12,000 pigs are dead after a fire broke out at a pork farm near Waseca. Several departments were called to the scene around 10:30 p.m. Sunday.

“All of the sudden I saw the fire trucks come by turning down the neighbor’s road. I looked up and saw the glow in the sky and I thought, oh boy,” Anita Nelson said.

Nelson lives close to Woodville Pork. She took pictures of the fire there shortly after it broke out and she says she knew right away, it would be devastating.

“That’s a lot. That’s a lot. That’s terrible. They’ve been here a long time,” said Nelson.

Nine different fire departments were called to supply water. At one point there were more than 20 tankers on scene. Two buildings were destroyed, but firefighters put in a fire break to save a third. While no people were hurt, thousands of hogs were killed.

“At this point I want to say around 12,000. We had 3,000 sows and 9,000 piglets I believe at this time. That’s just an estimate,” Waseca Fire Chief Jason Forshee said.

By 10:30 a.m. Monday, the scene was clear and the fire marshal had arrived to investigate. The family that owns the hog farm also owns another in the area.

Nelson said her heart goes out to them and everyone impacted by what happened.

“They are big hog farmers. It’s a tragic loss,” said Nelson “It’s tragic whenever you lose something like that.”

Chief Forshee it could be days before they know a cause for the fire. The owner of the farm said they are planning to rebuild.

John Lauritsen