Boy rescues almost 60 pigs from Caroline barn fire

Posted at 7:02 PM, Dec 27, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-28 11:51:05-05

CAROLINE COUNTY, Va (WTVR)--A Caroline County boy saved dozens of sows and piglets from a burning barn Monday night.

The flames were leaping nearly as high as the fifty foot silo next to the burning barning when elven-year old Daniel Fitzgerald drove up in his dad's pick up.  More than 50 pigs were living in the pens attached to the barn, the majority of them piglets.

Fitzgerald rushed into the pens and threw open the gate, allowing the pigs to escape.  However, many of them were so spooked by the blaze, Fitzgerald had to pick them up and toss them over the fence.

"The moms were barking; the piglets were running in and out of the building," said Daniel.

"At that point, we had a full house, so it couldn't have been any better for him to be here when he was," said Tony Fitzgerald, who was away from the farm running errands when the fire started.  "I can imagine what 50 screaming pigs would have sounded like at the heat of the moment.  It must have been so loud you couldn't even think."

The barn was filled with more than 1,000 pounds of straw, which is used for bedding for the pigs.  Tony Fitzgerald said he believes a transformer close to the barn caused a spark, and the straw did the rest.

The Fitzgeralds live on the 1,200 acre property called Moss Neck Farm.  Their house is located nearly a mile away from the barn, and Daniel said he was inside the home when he spotted the blaze.

"Courage.  I just thought about the pigs and knew I had to come down and get them out," said Daniel when asked about what made him rush towards the fire."

Daniel said the heat from the flames was so intense, it stung his face.  He had to put on the hood on his sweat shirt to get close enough.

Three piglets did not make it out of the fire, but Tony Fitzgerald said without his son's swift action things could have been much worse.

All of the surviving sows and piglets were corralled and placed in pens elsewhere on the property.  The Fitzgeralds said they plan on rebuilding the barn soon.