November 30, 2004

Firefighters Rescue Pigs From Sty Blaze

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. - Firefighters rescued dozens of squealing pigs Sunday night as they extinguished a fire in a pig sty near a garbage dump.

Two piglets died, while dozens of others were rescued in the fire. The fire burned a pig shelter near Marin Sanitary Service's Marin Resource Recovery Center.

When firefighters arrived, they faced a chaotic scene with an estimated 30 to 40 pigs running around.

Initially, fire crews had trouble reaching the blaze after a distraught sow blocked their path. At the same time, dozens of frantic piglets ran pell-mell throughout the area, fire officials said.

"There were lots of tiny baby pigs running around," Capt. Kevin Meiswinkel said. "They were so tiny - they couldn't have been more than a week old and it was really cold. We put blankets down for them. We had to chase them around. They were squealing and doing their thing."

Firefighters ran interference to distract the sow, and snuffed out the blaze in a few minutes.

The cause of the fire was under investigation, but it did not appear to be arson, fire officials said. One shed was destroyed and another damaged in the incident, Meiswinkel said.

Firefighters were working to rid their clothing and gear of pig dung. "The smell is just incredible," Meiswinkel said.

The pigs are owned by Marin Sanitary Service, which uses them to teach children about recycling - the pigs eat garbage.