LA GRANGE, Wis. - No humans were injured but about 300,000 chickens died in a livestock building fire in La Grange overnight.
Lauderdale-La Grange Fire Chief John Duerst said dozens of area departments were on the scene of the fire at S&R Fresh Egg Farm that was reported at about 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The northern building on the egg farm was engulfed in flames when crews arrived, Duerst said. Water to fight the fire had to be hauled to the rural farm from miles away, which is why about 60 fire agencies totaling between 150 and 200 firefighters assisted.
Duerst said all the chickens housed in the building where the fire began were killed. The 280,000 to 300,000 birds that were killed likely died within the first 15 minutes, he said. Hundreds of thousands of chickens kept in the buildings nearby survived.
After about 15 hours of fighting the fire, it was out at about 10 a.m. Saturday, according to the fire department.
The cause of the fire is undetermined, Duerst said.
"We know where roughly in the building it may have started," Duerst said. But finding the source of the blaze was made difficult because "we had to destroy so much of the building, the contents of it. There (were) cages and conveyors and feeders that are stacked up three stories tall."
The fire chief said the building where the fire started was a total loss, but an estimate of damage cost was not available.
Duerst said fighting a blaze for hours can be a challenge for crews, but the many agencies that responded Friday night made the challenge easier.
"In such a long, drawn out affair, you just have to rotate guys off the line, so you bring in fresh guys," he said. "We appreciate all the help we got from all the surrounding departments.
Fire doors between buildings helped contain the flames and heat from reaching two other chicken barns and a production building near to the blazing structure.
In a statement Saturday, S&R Egg Farm said its 13 other barns remain in full production. The company said there should be no disruption of service to its customers and it plans to rebuild the burned-down barn.
S&R also said no chemicals or other explosives were involved in the fire.
The 800-acre farm has been in operation for nearly six decades. It housed 2.4 million hens that produce about 2 million eggs a day.
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