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Curious fires hit four key fur industry targets since 2011

A look at four fires at key fur industry targets in a 22-month period.

In an industry as small as the fur industry, four “accidental” fires at key targets could be seen as statistically curious.

While there was preliminary (non-arson) explanations for each fire, four things make these incidents worthy of a closer look:

  • There were four large fires in under two years, in an industry with a supply-side number of approximately 350 targets.
  • Each fire hit a significant target, including the largest mink farm and largest mink feed supplier.
  • Each had a preliminary cause classified as “accidental,” however final determinations were never reported.
  • Two of the fires occurred in same area and at the same time as several other fur farm raids.

The four fires

Utah Fur Breeder’s Cooperative, December 2011

A fire broke out at the plant just south of Salt Lake City around 10:30 am. This facility is believed to be the largest mink feed supplier in the country. Of the four fires, the preliminary explanation seems the most credible, with the likely cause reported as sparks from a welder’s torch. The building was a total loss, and was condemned by building inspectors after the fire.

Lion Farms, Nottingham IN, May 2012

Fire swept through an empty mink shed at this rural Indiana fur farm in May, 2012. Most curious about this incident is that evidence indicates this farm had only opened just prior to the fire. In fact, the farm may not have been fully operational, and was probably still in the process of being filled with animals (the company literally flew mink from the Netherlands to Indiana to populate the farm). Other sheds on the property were reported to have held animals, while the burned shed did not.

Lion Farms is owned by a Dutch firm, who opened two fur farms (that are known of) in the US after a fur farm ban in their home country. The fire appeared to happen very early in their migration to the US. Any attack to head off their foothold in the US market could be considered very strategic.

Since this fire, Lion Farms opened a second farm in Ohio. Curiously, this farm was also raided by activists in September, when 300 mink were released.

The fire was suspected to have been started by embers from a trash can fire.

Sonnenberg Mink Farm, Detroit Lakes MN, October 2013


A spark from an incinerator was speculated to have set off a fire at this large mink farm last month. The fire occurred just a few days after 250 mink were released from another Minnesota fur farm. The building was a total loss, and damages were estimated at over $1 million.

While it is uncertain, at 50,000 mink this farm is likely to be the largest fur farm in Minnesota. Comparing satellite images of Minnesota farms also lends probability to this being the largest.

Zimbal Minkery, Oostburg WI, October 2013

Just over two weeks ago, a fire broke out in storage building at the Zimbal Minkery. This is the largest fur farm in the country, with over 200,000 mink.

2,000 mink were released from another Wisconsin farm the same month.

No speculation of any cause was reported.