Sunday, 30 May 2021 20:07

19K chickens estimated lost in Richmond County fire

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Northside Fire Department's Tyler Nalley sprays down hot spots at a chicken house fire Saturday afternoon. Northside Fire Department's Tyler Nalley sprays down hot spots at a chicken house fire Saturday afternoon. William R. Toler - Richmond Observer

ROCKINGHAM — Crews from four Richmond County fire departments battled a blaze that destroyed a chicken house Saturday afternoon.

The Northside Fire Department received the call just before 1 p.m. according to Chief Ed Causey. He said smoke from the fire could be seen from U.S. 220.

When his crew arrived on the scene on Richmond Road Extension, Causey said the last of the three chicken houses on the property was fully engulfed from end to end.

The owner said he had discovered the fire at one end and by the time he called 911, minutes later, the blaze had spread to the other end, according to Causey.

One of their biggest concerns upon arriving was to get the gas to the house shut off. There were gas lines going to the house and two 2,000 gallon propane tanks between the second and third house.

But it wasn’t that easy. 

The volunteer chief said the smoke was so thick when they rolled up that they couldn’t see the tanks.

Causey said he thinks the fire was feeding off the line before they turned off the gas.

Three other departments responded as mutual aid: Cordova Fire and Rescue, Ellerbe Fire Department and Hoffman Fire Department.

Ellerbe and Hoffman both contributed two tanker trucks and Rockingham provided one — added to the two Northside already had

The six trucks were refilled at a hydrant about a half-mile away to supply the water to fight the fire, which Causey estimates at more than 25,000 gallons.

In addition to manpower, Cordova also brought out its rehab truck and set up a tent with fans blowing a cool mist on the firefighters who sat down to take a break from the heat — from both the fire and the sun.

A brush unit was also brought in and the N.C. Forest Service later responded to trench a line around the house to keep embers from spreading to the nearby woods.

As firefighters worked to contain the fire on both sides, the roof of the structure collapsed in sections.

Causey said the chicken houses on the farm are older than most of those active in the county.

The owner estimated 19,000 chickens were lost in the fire, according to Causey. The chief said when he walked around the scene, he could tell the chickens were fairly mature and wouldn’t have had much time left in the house.

A sign at the front of the farm indicates that the chickens are raised for Mountaire Farms, which is based out of Millsboro, Delaware. According to the company’s website, Mountaire is the fourth-largest chicken company, producing three billion pounds of chicken annually.

As of Sunday afternoon, Causey said the cause of the fire was still unknown.

The department also responded to an arcing power line around midnight in the Little Philadelphia community, Causey said.


Last modified on Sunday, 30 May 2021 21:06