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Published: Tuesday, 2/28/2006

Farmer counts blessings

AYERSVILLE, Ohio - If the fire that destroyed William Rohn's pig barn - a $130,000 to $150,000 loss - had hit a week earlier or two days later, it would have been "one large barbecue" of 830 hogs, Mr. Rohn said.

But as it was, the fire in southeastern Defiance County late Saturday afternoon didn't kill a single pig.

Mr. Rohn had a contract to raise pigs, which belonged to an area elevator, from the time the pigs were about two weeks old until they weighed 50 to 60 pounds.

At that point, the pigs are shipped to another farmer to raise them to market weight of about 275 pounds.

And it was during that week between sending the partially grown hogs out and getting a new shipment of baby pigs in that fire broke out.

Wind made the fire a bigger challenge for about 50 firefighters from several departments, said Matt Flory, assistant chief of Highland Township Fire Department.

Mr. Rohn was at a wrestling match when the fire broke out and, although his wife was home, she did not see the smoke until firefighters - who had been called by a neighbor - drove in, Mr. Rohn said.

"By the time anybody realized it was on fire, it was a total engulfed mess," Mr. Rohn said.

The building, which had propane heaters operating even though it was empty, had plastic floors and plastic covered walls.

Mr. Rohn bought the building used about 25 years ago and renovated it.

"This is a large aggravation, but nobody was hurt," Mr. Rohn said.

However his teenage grandson wished that if the fire had to happen, it would have come several days sooner, saving him some aggravation.

He had spent his President's Day school holiday cleaning the pig barn, Mr. Rohn said.

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