3,500 pigs die in barn fire near Lanigan, Sask.

About 3,500 young pigs died in a barn fire near Lanigan, Sask., on Monday night.

Cause of blaze at Big Sky Farms under investigation

Thousands of young pigs died in the barn fire Monday night. (Courtesy Jessica Campbell)

About 3,500 young pigs died in a barn fire near Lanigan, Sask., on Monday night.

Fire crews and police were called to the Big Sky Farms pig barn at around 6:10 p.m. CST, the RCMP said.

When they arrived, there was smoke coming out of the eaves of the building. The building was soon engulfed in flames.

Chief Barry Hooper of the Lanigan volunteer fire department said about 12 firefighters were on the scene, but couldn't get inside the building.

"There was just too much smoke," he said. "Pretty well the whole building was involved in smoke and fire. You're pretty limited what you can do with the resources out there."

Hooper said his crew did stop the fire from reaching several nearby propane tanks.

"You just have to stand back, watch, make sure nobody gets hurt," he said. "If there are any surrounding buildings, you have to protect them. But nothing was in danger."

The barn was a total loss. OlySky says other buildings at the complex were not affected by the fire. (Courtesy: OlySky)

The complex is owned by food processing giant Olymel and operates it under the name OlySky. The site is still best known by its former name, Big Sky Farms, which was acquired by Olymel in 2013.

In a news release issued Tuesday, OlySky officials said they were "extremely pleased that there were no injuries to staff [but] saddened by the loss of the 3,500 pigs."

The company added that the fire will not affect its operations.

The barn was a total loss and no damage estimate was available. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

OlySky said it has 41,000 sows in production in Saskatchewan and Manitoba and produces over one million pigs per year in over 20 communities.

Fire destroyed the Big Sky barn, taking the lives of some 3,500 piglets. (Pascale Bouchard-Dubé/SRC)

The piglets were all between three and 10 weeks old. In terms of the number of animals lost, it was one of the worst agricultural fires in years in Saskatchewan.

Police originally said about 4,500 pigs died, but a spokesman for OlySky confirmed the actual number at about 3,500.

Lanigan is about 125 kilometres east of Saskatoon.

The fire swept through a Big Sky Farms pig barn near Lanigan, Sask., east of Saskatoon. (Google)