When firefighters arrived Tuesday morning to an eastern Iredell farm, they found a large chicken house engulfed in flames.
By then, it was already too late for the estimated 11,000 chickens inside.
“When we arrived it was fully involved and we started attacking it, but there wasn’t much we could do,” said David Johnson with County Line Volunteer Fire Department. “We just managed it and protected it from spreading.”
The scene was all too familiar to Johnson and other firefighters. Last year, there were two chicken houses on the farm at 405 Vaughn Mill Road.
One burned down in October.
The mangled remains of that house lay in a crumpled heap beside its burning neighbors as the firefighters worked. No chickens were inside when that blaze occurred.
Tuesday’s fire began shortly after 7 a.m., Johnson said, and was controlled within 15 minutes with 10,000 gallons of water. But the house continued to smolder, smoke and occasionally flare up for hours afterward.
Firefighters attempted to remove as much of the tin roof as they could to let the heat escape.
Johnson said he is communicating with the Department of Agriculture to determine how to properly dispose of the chicken remains.
Iredell Fire Marshal David Souther said it appears the fire began near the center of the chicken house where electronic controls for feeders, fans and lights were kept.
“Basically when you get a fire in a chicken house and you have the least bit of wind, it stirs up sawdust and you have a flash fire — basically just like an explosion,” Souther said.
An electrical problem was blamed for the first chicken house fire as well. In last year’s fire, the chicken house was empty because the flock inside had just been sold, owner Michael Evans said at the time.
Tuesday’s fire destroyed the last chicken house and all the farm’s chickens — save for about 12 that managed to escape.
The owner declined to comment on Tuesday beyond saying he kept the chickens for eggs and there were about 40,000 eggs in the house as well.
The first chicken house was valued at about $350,000, Evans said at the time.
There was no figure on the amount lost on Tuesday.
Cool Springs and Harmony fire departments also responded to the scene. No one was injured.