Chicken house fire results in damages upward of $400,000
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

Sept. 6, 2006 -- An early morning blaze destroyed a lengthy building filled with laying hens on a Pickton chicken farm Tuesday.

Electrical difficulties are suspected as the cause of the fire, but the exact cause is unknown due to the extent of damages, which totaled more that $440,000, according to Hopkins County Fire Investigator Steve Caudle.

The chickens themselves were valued at about $90,000, and the chicken house and equipment another $350,000 to $400,000, Caudle said, based on information obtained from farm operator Mike Garvin.

Fortunately for Garvin, who farms several chicken houses with laying hens for Pilgrim's Pride, the destroyed building was insured. Pilgrim's Pride officials also indicated that they would be responsible for the removal and safe disposal of the dead poultry, according to Caudle.

Hopkins County authorities were first alerted of the fire when Winnsboro officials asked that Pickton-Pine Forest and Como Volunteer Fire Departments be dispatched to CR 2408 at 6:25 a.m. to help contain the structure fire. Winnsboro firefighters were already at the scene but needed mutual aid to make sure the fire was contained, according to fire reports.

Caudle was notified of the fire at 9 a.m. and went to investigate. He reported the entire building was gutted, with the roof collapsing.

Electricity, used to power 10 to 12 large fans and a feeding system in the building, is suspected as the cause, as it was the only utility service to the structure. A malfunction in one of the electric motors was likely the culprit, but that will not be conclusively determined unless the insurance company opts to have the motors analyzed.

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