Chicken coop fires have come up many times in recent news. With winter upon us and frigid temperatures with snow and ice running amok, attempts have been made to warm chicken coops with fatal results. Some of these fires have resulted in not only loss of the coop and chickens contained within, but also loss of homes nearby. This is sad but avoidable reality for some as the heat lamp debate rages forth, especially when you consider that heat lamps are responsible for many coop fires.
Fires do not just happen in backyard coops, however. Unfortunately fire is one of those devastating things that can happen anywhere for a variety of reasons. While the cause is not yet known, a massive four alarm fire took place recently at an egg farm in Wisconsin. S&R Egg Farm, which is typically home to 2.4 million hens, lost approximately 300,000 hens in a blaze on Friday night.
The facility has multiple barns on their property, and one was lost in the fire. It was estimated by firefighters to be 300 feet long and 90 feet wide as well as three stories tall. The flames were visible from an astounding 15 miles away as this building was fully engulfed, amounting to a total loss. To fight this fire, nearly 200 firefighters from up to 55 fire departments were present, coming from at least five counties nearby. Several days later, the embers were still smoldering and had to be doused with water once again in hopes of finally putting this horrible fire in the past.
S&R Egg Farm is a family owned operation that distributes eggs to grocery stores. Their business is still operational at this time as the fire was contained to only one barn and the rest of the structures on the site were left unharmed. There were also no human injuries in the blaze; all of their 155 employees are safe. The cause of the fire is unknown at this time.
While there could be many reasons for which this fire occurred, it will take time to find out with any certainty what the actual cause was. With such a tragedy in the forefront of our minds, I want to take this moment to encourage you to take a good, hard look at your coop and evaluate any risks. Granted, there is a vast difference between the set up at an egg farm and what we have on our own properties, but tragedy can strike anywhere and does so often unexpectedly.
Remember that flammable substances should not be near your coop and electrical hazards such as heat lamps are unnecessary for chickens and do pose a distinct danger. Be on the lookout for anything suspicious or out of place, especially those who keep backyard chickens and live on a busy road-one discarded cigarette is all it takes to ignite a bed of straw. Part of our lives with chickens involves safeguarding those chickens from harm in every way possible. This may be a fulltime job, but it is one of the most worthwhile ones you will ever have.