Feb. 01--WHITEWATER -- A massive fire at S&R Egg Farm east of Whitewater Friday night destroyed an egg-production building and killed as many as 300,000 chickens, Lauderdale-La Grange Fire Chief John Duerst said.
Duerst said firefighting crews from Walworth, Rock and Jefferson counties pumped over 500,000 gallons of water to in a 13-hour battle against a blaze that destroyed a large building used to house egg-laying hens at the farm at 9416 N. Tamarack Road, about 9 miles southeast of Whitewater.
Duerst said the multi-story metal building, which was about 20,000 square feet, housed between 280,000 and 300,000 hens.
"There wasn't any chance for them," Duerst said.
Fire investigators were still working to learn a cause Saturday morning, Duerst said, and there was no immediate estimate on damages. He said the egg farm, which houses 2.4 million hens and produces 2 million eggs a day, hoped to resume production Saturday.
He said nobody was injured in the fire. The building that caught fire, which Duerst said was two years old and part of a "state-of-the-art" egg-production facility that uses a system of conveyors to move eggs, was apparently closed up and locked when the fire broke out.
Fire crews were digging through the collapsed building and still were trucking in water Saturday morning to cool off lingering hot spots, Duerst said.
Fire crews activated multiple MABAS box alarms and called in dozens of water tank trucks to the fire, which broke out at about 7:30 p.m. Friday. Crews from Janesville, Milton, Edgerton and
Firefighters struggled to get enough water to quell the blaze, but crews were able to keep the fire from spreading to adjacent buildings and chemical storage tanks.
Duerst said that fire crews were trucking in water from Whitewater, Elkhorn, Palmyra and Eagle. He said at one point, the city of Whitewater reported 180 tank trucks had filled up.
"It was a lot of gallons of water. The guys who were hauling it were having a difficult time remembering how many trips they made," Duerst said.
A company official with S&R Egg Farm declined to comment on a potential cause of the fire, and said he could not confirm the scope of damages or the number of chickens and eggs lost in the blaze.
The official said the company plans to wait for a state fire marshal to investigate the fire before it released a statement.
Copyright 2014 - The Janesville Gazette, Wis.