Approximately 10,000 hogs killed in fire at Pillen Family Farms

ALBION, Neb. -- A large fire near Albion has claimed the lives of approximately 10,000 hogs, according to the Petersburg Volunteer Fire Department.

The department was training late in Tuesday night when, at 3:14 a.m., a call from Pillen Family Farm came in: one of their barns near Albion was ablaze. 

"The bells started ringing, and by the time we got west of town ... it was just a glowing ball out there," said Doug Koch, a volunteer firefighter. 

The 20-pound hogs were trapped under the collapsed, burning building; none salvageable.

"I kept thinking, you would have thought at least one pig would come walking out, that at least one would have survived [...] It was the most destructive for losing livestock I've ever seen that large," said Petersburg Fire Chief Neil Baumgartner. 

They eventually stopped it by tearing through the building around 11 a.m., but they were later called back onto the scene throughout Wednesday to fend off flames.   

"It is dry so a spark could go a long way... the guys are drinking coffee today," Baumgartner said. 

The cause is still under investigation, but Baumgartner said there had been construction on-site previously.

While the whole building was a loss, no people were injured. 

Pillen Family Farm has not commented on the issue yet to NCN. 

No human injuries were reported. The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.

The Animal Welfare Institute said Thursday morning that the Wednesday fire was the deadliest barn fire in Nebraska this year.

“While we are relieved no humans were injured, the extreme suffering and fear these animals must have endured as they were trapped in a burning building cannot be ignored,” said Allie Granger, farm animal policy associate for the Animal Welfare Institute. “Producers and the industry as a whole must take this problem seriously and start prioritizing fire prevention.”

The institute says nearly 5.3 million farm animals have perished in barn fires since 2013. Nebraska reported the most animal deaths from barn fires last year with approximately 400,000 dying in three fires.