More Than A Million Chickens Feared Dead After Huge Illinois Barn Fire

Barn fires kill large numbers of farmed animals each year


2 Minutes Read

Chickens being kept in an intensive egg farm Chickens are by far the biggest victims of barn fires - Media Credit: Adobe Stock

More than one million chickens are thought to have died after an egg farm caught fire in southern Illinois on Wednesday night. 

Farina Farms Inc Poultry Farm housed approximately 1.2 million birds, and all were reportedly killed. Three buildings caught fire, with flames reaching between 13,000 and 15,000 feet, according to local media

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The fire was fully extinguished on Thursday morning. In a Facebook post, The Beckemeyer Volunteer Fire Department from Clinton County, which was one of the departments at the scene, wrote: “It’s hard to explain the sheer size of this operation and all the moving parts and straight dedication that went into bringing this fire under control.”

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined. According to reports, no humans were harmed.

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Barn fires and animal agriculture

Fires at farms are not an anomaly. The number of animals killed in them vary widely year on year, but the average number of annual deaths is in the hundreds of thousands. In 2020, a record 1.6 million were killed, and the overwhelming majority of them were chickens. As farming intensifies around the world, more and more animals are being kept in a single farm, meaning higher numbers are perishing in fires.

Hens packed in cages in an intensive egg farm
Adobe Stock As farming intensifies, more and more animals are being killed in a single fire

Media reports on barn fires often focus on the economic damage they cause the farmer, or the effect the fire has on the wider community. Barely any airtime is given to the animals themselves, who suffer hugely in fires. Animals either burn alive, die from smoke inhalation, or have to be put down after the fire due to suffering burns. 

There are a number of reasons why fires happen at farms. Some happen due to malfunctioning heating or electrical systems, and flammable materials like hay and sewage are rife on farms. Sewage emits methane and hydrogen sulfide, both of which are explosives. In April 2023, 18,000 cows died after a methane explosion in a dairy farm. There is no law that requires farm owners to provide any emergency plan for the animals in the case of a fire. 

Read more: How Extreme Weather In The UK Is Hurting Farmed Animals

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