BERLIN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A quarter of a million hens were killed in a fire that burned for hours at Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch, its owners say.
Herb Herbruck said the Tuesday night fire destroyed a single barn at the farm located near Portland Road and M-66 in Berlin Township, south of Ionia.
While no workers or first responders were injured, Herbruck said all 250,000 hens inside the building died.
“We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of our hens,” he said in a Wednesday afternoon statement.
Ionia County dispatchers say the fire started in a back barn around 6:15 p.m. Amid rush-hour traffic on nearby I-96, commuters spotted huge flames leaping from a barn and a large pillar of gray smoke rising from the blaze.
Dispatchers said the fire could be smelled as far away as Jenison. Five hours later, the barn was still burning.
>>App users: Photos from the fire
A farm employee said the barn that initially caught fire was under renovations. Herbruck said investigators are trying to determine the cause of the fire, but it will likely take several weeks.
Herbruck said the poultry farm is “fully operational” and they plan to rebuild.
“We are truly thankful for the first responders in Ionia County, who are largely volunteer firefighters, who quickly responded to this fire and contained the damage to a single barn. We also appreciate our employees for their quick response in calling first responders which likely minimized further damage. We are thankful for the community’s continued support and thoughts during this difficult time. Last night’s fire will not impact our ability to serve our many valued customers,” Herbruck stated.
Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch suffered a similar loss in 2005, when a barn burned to the ground, killing 250,000 hens. The damages amounted to about $5 million.
The most recent fire at the farm happened in February 2018, when seven fire departments battled a blaze that started in an egg storage cooler.