State po­lice: ‘Crim­i­nal in­volve­ment’ not sus­pected in hog farm fire

The Morning Call - - LOCAL NEWS - By Lau­rie Ma­son Schroeder

State po­lice in­ves­ti­gat­ing the mas­sive barn fire in Lynn Town­ship that killed nearly 4,000 hogs Satur­day say “crim­i­nal in­volve­ment” is not sus­pected at this time, but that a probe into the cause of the blaze could be lengthy.

“Un­for­tu­nately, due largely to the amount of struc­ture loss and the col­laps­ing of both barn build­ings on the prop­erty, the abil­ity to gen­er­ate a cause is greatly hin­dered,” said Trooper Nathan T. Bra­nosky, spokesman for Troop M in Beth­le­hem. “The cause of the fire will be listed as un­de­ter­mined at this time.”

Fire­fight­ers were sum­moned to Bil­lig Farms on 7861 Spring House Road at 5:41 a.m. Satur­day and found two barns en­gulfed in flames.

The side-by-side wood­framed struc­tures with metal roofs col­lapsed dur­ing the blaze, killing all the an­i­mals in­side.

On Mon­day, the farm’s owner be­gan the grim task of bury­ing the an­i­mals un­der the su­per­vi­sion of the state De­part­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion.

The process in­volved dig­ging a trench and cov­er­ing the car­casses in at least 2 feet of soil, said DEP spokesper­son Colleen Con­nolly.

Nu­mer­ous agen­cies are in­volved in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and cleanup, in­clud­ing the U.S. De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture and a state po­lice fire mar­shal.

The farmer’s in­surance com­pany is also in­volved, Bra­nosky said.

The barns were lo­cated far off the road, caus­ing some dif­fi­cul­ties for fire­fight­ers, Lyn­nport Com­mu­nity Fire Com­pany Chief Clark Mantz said. Crews from Le­high, Berks and Schuylkill fought the fire for eight hours, si­phon­ing wa­ter from a nearby pond to pour on the blaze.

Bra­nosky said the barn was not equipped with fire sup­pres­sion sprin­klers, though there was a “sys­tem of mist­ing de­vices to help with the tem­per­a­tures in­side the barns for the an­i­mals dur­ing sum­mer months.”

The farm’s owner, Ti­mothy Bil­lig, could not be reached for com­ment Tues­day.

Morn­ing Call reporter Lau­rie Ma­son Schroeder can be reached at 610-820-6506 or lma­[email protected]

LE­HIGH VAL­LEY DRONE/SPE­CIAL TO THE MORN­ING CALL

Thou­sands of hogs were killed in a fire that de­stroyed two barns on a Lynn Town­ship farm Satur­day morn­ing, ac­cord­ing to the Lyn­nport Com­mu­nity Fire Com­pany. Fire Chief Clark Mantz said the fire com­pany was sum­moned at 5:41 a.m. to 7861 Spring House Road and ar­rived to find the barns ablaze.

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