Fire at Rangely 4-H pens leaves 5 pigs dead, 2 hurt

RANGELY I A fire ignited by an electrical source killed five pigs and injured two more in one of two Rangely 4-H community pens on Monday afternoon.
Rangely Animal Shelter workers Vicky Pfennig and Linda Farney, who spotted a plume of smoke from the shelter on Monday afternoon, arrived first at the pens around 1:45 p.m. and tried to help.
“We went tearing down there, but by then the roof was pretty much engulfed,” Pfennig said. “We got two of (the pigs) out, but it was so dang hot in there, so we called 911. I hope I never have to see anything like that again.”
Dispatch received Farney and Pfennig’s calls at 1:54 p.m. A fire crew arrived at the pens on Rodeo Road just after 2 p.m. to find the east pen completely involved, Rangely Rural Fire Protection District (RRFPD) Assistant Chief Jasper Whiston said. It took firefighters approximately 15 minutes to put out the flames, which burned two-thirds of the pens and most of the ceiling.
“You could tell the fire had jumped across the pens and hay was burning from the top, not burning up from the bottom,” Pfennig said. “It jumped from one side to the other.”
Of the four pigs that survived, two were taken to Meeker for veterinary care. Three others were uninjured.
“It was definitely an electrical issue that ignited some straw in the pen,” Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s Deputy Jarrod Lang said. “We think maybe a heat lamp was left on that a pig may have moved too close to the straw.”
4-H coordinator Jayda Lewis said that although the pens were insured, she didn’t know yet what is next for the 4-H children who lost animals in the fire.
While he was thankful nobody working in the pens or helping with the fire was injured, Whiston added that callouts like these are never easy.
“I feel bad for the kids who’ve been investing all their time and effort into raising those animals,” he said. “We’re glad no one was injured, but for the animals to be killed that way is really unfortunate.”­