For the second time in less than a year, a fire has destroyed a hog barn at the Straathof Swine Farm facility in Fayette County’s Wayne Township.
Emergency responders from throughout Fayette County were on the scene, located at 7111 Old Route 35 Southeast, Tuesday evening still fighting the massive fire that began shortly after 3 p.m. Three construction workers were injured and transported by medical helicopter to OSU Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, according to Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Stanforth.
A June 19 fire destroyed two buildings at the Straathof Swine Farm last year, killing approximately 5,000 hogs. On Tuesday, one of the two buildings under reconstruction on the very same site was destroyed in the fire, and according to authorities, approximately 180 hogs perished.
“The building that was destroyed just received its first delivery of hogs,” said Stanforth. “It’s my understanding it was a smaller number that were lost. They weren’t able to get them out.”
The cause of the fire was undetermined as of Tuesday evening. Investigators from the Ohio State Fire Marshal’s Office were on the scene.
Firefighters worked to prevent the fire from the destroyed building spreading to the second building. As of Tuesday evening, the second building had not been damaged by fire, Stanforth said.
“The severity of the fire was just as significant as the fire from last year,” Stanforth said. “But this time, they were able to save one building and the loss of livestock was on a much smaller scale this time.”
Fayette County Emergency Management Agency Director Melissa Havens said more information should be available on Wednesday.
“Investigators are just beginning to sort out everything that happened,” Havens said.
Extensive clean-up efforts were required in the aftermath of the June 19 fire due predominantly to the 5,000 carcasses. Some neighbors complained that the stench from the fire remained in the area for months.
The environmental staff at Fayette County Public Health said that during clean-up, crews were taking every possible measure to reduce odor, dust, insects and air quality control.
In November 2011, the Straathof Swine Farm was granted a permit by the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) to expand to a maximum capacity of 5,760 head of swine, according to documents provided by the ODA.
“The farm operated before that time underneath our permitting threshold so I don’t know specifically when it was built,” Mark Bruce, ODA communications director, said in an earlier interview with the Record-Herald. “They had a farm with less than 2,500 hogs prior to that time so they did not have to get a permit. When they wanted to grow to that 5,760 size, they had to get the permit and that permit was ultimately signed off on in November of 2011.”
A Permit to Operate (PTO) is issued by the Ohio Director of Agriculture to producers that wish to operate a “Concentrated Animal Feeding Facility (CAFF)” in Ohio, according to the ODA website. Its purpose is to help assure the proposed facility has developed appropriate best management plans in the areas of manure management, insect and rodent control, animal mortality and emergency response.
For construction or expansion of a CAFF, a producer must submit a Permit to Install and a Permit to Operate at the same time. Both permits were issued to Straathof Swine by the ODA. The person listed as the owner of the facility is Nico Straathof, of Washington C.H.
The Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District was called the scene Tuesday for mutual aid.