A fire tore through a hog barn on a Hutterite colony in Montana earlier this week, killing more than 3,000 pigs.
According to the local KXLH news, emergency services in Lewis & Clark County were notified of the fire on the Milford Hutterite Colony around 5:30 p.m. on Monday.
Reports indicated smoke was billowing from the barn; however, Sargent Alan Hughes with the Lewis & Clark County Sherriff's Office said that by the time the first deputy arrived on the scene roughly 30 minutes after the call was received, flames were shooting 40 feet into the air.
Despite efforts of emergency crews, the barn is a total loss and approximately 3,100 feeder pigs were killed.
Ben Wipf, secretary of the colony, described the shock felt across the colony.
"We're pretty shook up," Wipf said.
The cause of the fire has yet to be determined but is not considered suspicious. Leo Dutton, sheriff of Lewis & Clark County, said investigations so far have been unable to determine the cause or origin due to the intense heat of the fire.
Dutton did point out that several days prior to the fire, members of the colony experienced a "significant fluctuation of electrical power," leading some to speculate a power surge to the barn could have been the culprit. This theory has not yet been confirmed.
"It is quite a tragic loss to the members of the colony," Dutton said
Many people in the community left notes of sympathy for the colony in the wake of the tragedy: