Quick action from employees of a Tisdale-area business managed to save hogs from a trailer fire Tuesday.
The trailer — owned by Olymel — caught fire on Highway 3 just east of town, near the front gates of Bruce Schapansky Auctioneers.
Courtenay Schapansky-Bondarchuk said staff told her to call 911, but there was no response.
“Nobody answered,” she said.
After failing to get through to the local RCMP detachment, she joined about eight to 10 other staff members in grabbing fire extinguishers and heading to deal with the flames themselves.
“The flames were pretty bad and the smoke was pretty bad, and the pigs were very scared,” she said. “They were squealing and it was pretty horrendous to see.”
Some staff tried to get the back door of the trailer open while six fire extinguishers were sprayed on the trailer. Another worker retrieved a trailer with pressurized washers on it and the makeshift crew managed to put the flames out.
Schapansky-Bondarchuk said most of the hogs were saved, but two were badly burned and had fallen through a melted hole in the trailer.
“The pig fell through and right on to one of our staff members,” she said.”He took off and he was in really bad shape.”
The hog was cornered in a ditch so it wouldn’t run on to the highway. Shortly after, an RCMP member arrived and euthanized both burned pigs with a service firearm.
Schapansky-Bondarchuk said the volunteer fire squad from Tisdale arrived 25 minutes after the incident, despite the travel time between the fire hall and business clocking in at about three minutes according to Google Maps.
She said the fire chief reprimanded them for fighting the fire without waiting for crews to arrive.
“We couldn’t have waited,” she told 650 CKOM.
“If we had waited, or didn’t have the ability — with the wash trailer — the whole trailer would’ve been up in smoke, easy.”
She added “no animal deserves to die like that,” even if the pigs would be led to slaughter at a later date.
Tisdale RCMP Detachment Commander Daryl Andrusiak confirmed to 650 CKOM the fire had already been extinguished by the time a member arrived on scene.
A report filed by the member suggested the cause of the blaze was a “mechanical failure in the trailer.”
Andrusiak said he was surprised to hear people calling emergency services weren’t getting through to 911 or police.
“I don’t know what would’ve been the cause of something like that,” he said, noting he would look into the issue.
911 dispatch services outside of Saskatoon, Regina and Prince Albert are administered by the province. When contacted by 650 CKOM, officials said they would investigate what happened.
As for Schapansky-Bondarchuk, she’s proud of her staff and how they handled the situation.
“We’re just really thankful we have a great team that was able to assist and save all those pigs,” she said.
She added a third injured pig was initially kept at the Schapansky Auctioneers site in a barn with the hopes of keeping it as a pet. However, Olymel picked the animal up from the business later in the day.
“We even offered to buy it from them, but they said no,” Schapansky-Bondarchuk said. “She was friendly … I wish we could have kept her.”
This is the second fire incident for Olymel this month.
On June 1, a barn near Herschel containing more than 12,000 pigs burned to the ground.