Nearly a quarter of a million chickens are believed to have been killed in a Florida poultry farm fire. Firefighters responding to Cal-Maine Foods in Dade City early Thursday found that three coops housing chickens had been devastated by flames, Fox 13 reports. The farm, said to be one of the largest producers and distributors of eggs in the US, has five other large coops that the firefighters saved; each one holds between 60,000 and 80,000 chickens. The farm is three miles from the nearest hydrant, meaning firefighters had to bring in their own water; their efforts were also complicated by propane tanks on the property exploding. It's a $1 million loss for the farm, WFLA reports.
The cause of the fire has not yet been revealed, but Cal-Maine Foods' CFO tells the New York Times that the pullets (young hens that have not started laying eggs) have lower body mass and require heat, which may have been a factor in the blaze. "It usually comes down to some sort of heating problem or electrical problem," said Max Bowman, who noted the fire killed 2% to 3% of the company's pullets. (Read more Florida stories.)