By JOE SUTTER
GALT – Thousands of chickens were killed when a barn was destroyed by fire Sunday afternoon at Centrum Valley Farms’ operation in Galt.
Fire crews returned to the egg farm Monday night to supervise the embers due to high winds, and the building continued to smolder Tuesday afternoon, said Clarion Fire Chief Brian Marker.
The fire began after the egg processing shift had ended, said Steve Boomsma, chief operating officer of Centrum Valley Farms, in a statement. No employees were injured.
About 75,000 egg-laying hens were killed when one building burned completely to the ground. Another flock of 75,000 was killed in an adjoining building from smoke.
Marker said the fire call came at about 4 p.m. Sunday.
“It’s a complex of 18, 19 buildings I think,” he said. “We were at the far north building, closest to the road. When we got there it was pretty much smoke coming out of it, fire coming out the eaves, and the roof was starting to collapse.”
Mutual aid was called from Eagle Grove and Dows. An interior attack was impossible, so fire crews fought the fire from the outside and prevented it from spreading to the next building, which was about 30 feet away, Marker said. Firefighters worked at the scene until about 12:30 a.m. Monday.
“We are grateful especially to our employees who took immediate actions to assist, and to local fire and emergency personnel for their swift and thorough response,” Boomsma said. “The full extent of the damage is still being evaluated. It appears that recent structural enhancements to improve fire protections between barns helped prevent the spread of the fire.”
Monday night fire crews were called out again, Marker said, because of concerns about high winds and the wind direction.
“It had a lot of the metal still inside the cement bunker,” he said. “The manure was smoking down below. We thought we’d water it down, but there was way too much tin to even penetrate that metal, so we did what we could.”
Tin was flopping and banging around in the wind, he said.
“About 11:30 we quit last night, and just sat there and maintained it so no embers would go to the next building,” said Marker. “Then we came back to town about 7 this morning to go back to our normal jobs.”
The cause of the fire is unknown at this time, Marker said.
“A full investigation will be conducted,” Boomsma said. “We will share additional details as appropriate.”
Tuesday afternoon, Marker said winds had changed and were blowing the smoke away from other buildings.
“It’s still smoking pretty good, but the winds have died down,” he said.