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January 26, 2023
Tens of thousands of egg-laying chickens are estimated to have been killed in a barn fire on May 28 at one of Minnesota’s largest egg producers.
“Overnight, a fire destroyed one of our barns at our Howard Lake farm. 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,” Forsman Farms spokesperson Jon Austin confirmed.
Wright County fire officials reportedly are still trying to determine the cause of the blaze at Forsman Farms that destroyed the building.
“We’re surveying the damage to see if there’s anything beyond the building” that suffered structural damage, Jon Austin told The Epoch Times. “It’s a substantial facility with hundreds of thousands of chickens on-site.”
Forsman Farms have said they will continue operating in other buildings on-site and five other locations throughout the upper Midwest to maintain egg production levels and supply. The company operates with 30 to 40 employees, and none will be laid off because of the fire, Austin said.
Due to the infectious avian flu, it isn’t known when the company will be able to replace the chickens. “That’s part of our evaluation process. That’s a factor to take into consideration. I don’t know [whether] I’ve got a hard number on when or how long,” Austin said.
Cokato resident Eddie Olson heard about the fire on his scanner that he typically uses during severe weather.
“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 said. “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 poultry barn fire is the latest in a series of at least 17 unrelated fires at food and fertilizer production facilities since the start of 2022.
On May 26, a grain elevator fire destroyed the 100-year-old M & E Seed and Grain Co. in Prosser, Washington, and left one person with burns.
A Canadian Pacific Railway freight train carrying potash, which is used in fertilizer production, derailed in southern Alberta on May 22. The accident remains under investigation.
“If we’re part of a pattern, it’s not one that I’m aware of,” Austin said of the Forsman Farms blaze.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: MINNESOTA CBS LOCAL