Just a “handful” of birds have escaped with their lives, after a shed fire killed 8,000 chickens near Launceston this morning.
- Staff at the family-owned business are said to be “devastated” by the loss
- A veteran firefighter says he has never seen so many animals killed by a single fire incident
- The cause of the early morning fire will be investigated, despite fire authorities’ preliminary assessment of there being no suspicious circumstances
The Tasmania Fire Service (TFS) were called to the scene at Olson’s Eggs on Brown Mountain Road, Karoola, shortly before 5:00am, where flames had already taken hold.
It is believed about 8,000 chickens perished in the blaze, wiping out an estimated 23 per cent of the business’ production.
The TFS said the chickens were not constrained inside the shed and were producing barn-laid eggs, but were confined by the shed doors being closed when the fire broke out.
An investigation into the cause of the fire deemed it to be accidental and “most likely caused by a fault in a heater used to keep young chicks warm”, the TFS said in a statement.
Damage to the shed and the associated loss of stock and infrastructure has been estimated at $1,000,000.
Olson’s Eggs is a family-owned business that has supplied eggs to northern Tasmania since the 1800s.
Launceston Fire Brigade Station Officer Danny Guy said the owners were distraught.
“It is the first time anything like this has ever happened to them, so as you can imagine they’re just beside themselves,” he said.
“This is their livelihood, they employ four other people here too, so to lose their production and income is just devastating to them.”
Station Officer Guy said it was the largest number of animal deaths he had ever seen in a single incident.
“I’ve been in the brigade for over 30 years and have never seen anything with this amount of fatalities in it before,” he said.
He said the scene looked like “a tangled, metal mess of twisted iron and steel”.