Holden hog barn sustains $1.75 million in damages

Published 10:19 am Thursday, July 3, 2008

Authorities are estimating $1.75 million in damage from a raging fire early Wednesday morning in Dexter which engulfed an east confinement building and connecting structure and resulted in unknown animal and equipment losses.

According to Mower County Chief Deputy Mark May, Dexter fire officials were the first to respond to the Holden hog farm, at 25581 640th Ave., around 4 a.m. After seeing the gravity of the blaze, however, they called Brownsdale firefighters to assist, May said.

Harry Wallem, 39, reported the fire after receiving a call from a security alarm company about a low-level pressure alarm at the complex. Thinking it may have been a water pressure problem, he went to area, noticed flames and called authorities.

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No cause has been determined, according to May, who said the State Fire Marshall has been asked to investigate.

May said he’s heard the connecting building had a lot of expensive equipment, though still has not been told how many animals perished in the fire.

Holden, one of the largest pork producers nationwide, owns Santos Group, which was sued for by Lyle Township residents for alleged violations during the approval of a feedlot in the region. The issue implicated former feedlot officer Lowell Frazen, who has since resigned. One lawsuit has since been dismissed.

A fire struck a second hog farm Monday, said May, though damages are minimal.

Lyn Meany reported four-foot tall flames at her Rose Creek farm, 19131 610th Ave., which she said were started by a gas vaporizer. The Rose Creek Fire Department responded and prevented any damage to the connecting building.

May said about $1,000 in losses resulted.