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Source : 25/08/1989 Northampton Mercury

A fire which swept through a Nether Heyford farm, killing more than 300 pigs, may have been started deliberately.

Police investigated the smouldering remains of buildings at New Creation Farm, belonging to the Jesus Fellowship, but were keeping an open mind as to the cause.

The fire started at 3pm on Tuesday when 500 tonnes of straw caught fire and farm workers were unable to prevent the flames spreading.

However, despite the heat and the animals' panic, firemen and members of the religious sect were able to save hundreds of other pigs. Damage from the fire is expected to reach six figures.

Farm manager Mark Shield said members of the Fellowship tried desperately to free hundreds of squealing pigs.

Thirty firemen fought the blaze and joined workers in trying to rescue livestock.

A vet attended the scene to treat pigs for burns and putting down those very badly injured.

Assistant divisional fire officer Vince Simpson said firemen had a difficult task in saving the pigs as the animals were running in all directions.

'Pigs are stupid animals and many of them were running back towards the heat after we had rescued them,' he said.

According to Mr Shield the Fellowship had a strict no-smoking policy but he did not rule out the possibility that a cigarette could have caused the fire.