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JESUS ARMY PIG FARM BLAZE PROBE


Source : 23/08/1989 Northampton Chronicle and Echo

Police were today investigating a blaze which swept through a Jesus Army farm in Northamptonshire, killing more than 300 pigs.

Firemen and Jesus Fellowship members risked their lives to save hundreds more pigs from the ferocious fire which caused 100,000 of damage at New Creation Farm, Nether Heyford.

Today police revealed that the fire could have been started deliberately and scenes-of-crime officers were at the farm investigating the cause.

The animals perished when barns went up in flames yesterday at 3pm when 500 tonnes of straw caught fire.

Farm workers, all members of the controversial Fellowship, were unable to stop the blaze spreading to surrounding buildings.

Farm manager Mark Shield said members fought desperately to free hundreds of squealing pigs from the barns as the blaze took hold.

'They were making a terrible noise and we were at some risk trying to save them,' he said.

'Some of us were inside the barns trying to chase the pigs out and the roof could have caved in at any moment.'

Thirty firemen tackled the blaze and they joined farm workers in ferrying animals to safety.

A vet was also brought to the farm, and he treated pigs and piglets for skin burns while many of the more seriously injured had to be put down.

Assistant divisional fire officer Vince Simpson said firemen had a difficult task saving the pigs as they were panicking and running in all directions.

'Pigs are very stupid animals and many of them were running back towards the heat after we had rescued them,' he said.

'We have had to work quite hard to protect other buildings from the fire, which spread very quickly.'

Mr Simpson said the cause of the blaze was still being investigated, Fire chiefs today said the cause was 'doubtful'.

Mr Shield said the Fellowship operated a strict no smoking rule on the farm, but he did not rule out the possibility that a cigarette could have caused the fire.

'It is a terrible mess and I dread to think what this is going to cost,' he said.