SHERMAN, Maine — About 200 pigs died in a fire at a pig farm off Sleeper Road late Sunday that might have been started by an electrical malfunction, Fire Chief Todd Hayes said Monday. No one was injured.
About 30 firefighters from Island Falls, Oakfield, Patten, Sherman and Stacyville responded to the fire call, which came at about 11:15 p.m., but when the first firefighters arrived, the 70-by-170-foot barn in which the pigs were housed was almost totally destroyed, with the animals trapped inside, Hayes said.
“We couldn’t get near it. It was fully engulfed,” Hayes said. “The farmer had tried to get them [the animals] out, but it was even too late when he got there. The smoke had already gotten to them.”
Hayes said the farm was owned by the Sides family and that family members lived on the premises. A 411.com search listed a Sam Sides at the address, 40 Sleeper Farm Road, but the number appears to be unlisted. Hayes described the farm as fairly large and among the few in his area of southern Aroostook County.
Hayes said he suspected the fire might have been caused by a malfunctioning electrical utility wire.
“He said the wires were arcing out inside of the building,” Hayes said. The farmer called 911 for help from inside the barn as he tried to rescue the pigs.
“He lost everything that he had, his whole herd of pigs, and it is his livelihood,” Hayes said.
Hayes said the Sides family does have insurance, however.
Hayes’ department recently switched from using the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Department dispatch radio system to using the Penobscot Regional Communications Center, which probably speeded firefighters’ response to the fire slightly. Area fire departments are now all on one frequency, not several, he said.