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An estimated tens of thousands of chickens were killed over Memorial Day weekend after a fire tore through a barn located in Howard Lake, Minnesota, burning down the structure in the process.
The cause of the blaze is unknown, but authorities are investigating the damage at Forsman Farms.
On Sunday, Heidi Wigdahl of KARE 11 news tweeted, “A Wright County egg producer is evaluating the damage left behind from a Saturday night fire. A Forsman Farms spokesperson said they do not have a firm number yet but he estimates at least tens of thousands of chickens were killed.”
A Wright County egg producer is evaluating the damage left behind from a Saturday night fire. A Forsman Farms spokesperson said they do not have a firm number yet but he estimates at least tens of thousands of chickens were killed. https://t.co/JPkqaQqO6Y @kare11 pic.twitter.com/51F8gE4oea
— Heidi Wigdahl (@HeidiWigdahl) May 30, 2022
The fire was reported to 911 around 10 pm local time by a neighbor who noticed the massive blaze while he was enjoying his own bonfire with his family.
“It was unbelievable how quick it grew, it was insane,” Andy Trebesch told CBS 4. “It was the whole sky, it was quite large.”
Forsman Farms spokesperson Jon Austin told KARE 11 that as many as hundreds of thousands of chickens could have been killed and nearby poultry likely suffered from smoke inhalation.
“Overnight, a fire destroyed one of our barns at our Howard Lake farm,” Austin said on Sunday. “No one was injured and we are grateful that first responders were quickly on scene to put out the fire. Unfortunately, chickens were lost because of the fire. We are evaluating the extent of the damage – which appears to be confined to a single structure – as well as investigating the cause of the fire.”
Eddie Olson, a Minnesota resident who usually uses a scanner to track inclement weather, heard about the fire late Saturday night.
“Fires are scary in general, but when you see something of that scale you know, out of control It was just hard to, you know, to think about the chickens, the company, you know, people that work there,” Olson told CBS 4. “It’s kind of a hard hit because we’re already struggling, you know, with the eggs and the cost of stuff and that takes kind of a bite out of the market.”
The Forsman Farm fire is the latest in a series of food processing infernos that have made the news, leading some to speculate the blazes could be acts of arson. A recent Associated Press fact check found that there is no evidence the fires are intentional or connected.
“The AP contacted officials in relation to 23 unique events, eight from 2021 and the rest from this year, that were referenced between two lists shared on Facebook and Twitter,” the international media outlet noted. “Fire officials in nine instances said that the fires were determined or suspected to be accidental. In several others, officials would only say that the fires were still under investigation. In some other cases, local news reports also suggested the incidents were accidents.”