DADE CITY, Fla. — Pasco County Fire Rescue is working to extinguish a large fire that destroyed three chicken coop barns early Thursday morning.
Officials say an employee who lives on the Cal-Maine Foods property, located in Dade City, called in the first alarm around 1 a.m.
When firefighters arrived on the scene, they immediately called for a second alarm after noting the size of the fire.
The fire destroyed three barns that each contain up to 80,000 chickens each, and officials say at least 250,000 chickens total were killed.
Crews were forced to battle the flames from an exterior position because the buildings were collapsing and propane tanks were going off.
“We’re trying to keep everyone safe. We’re trying to fight the fire from outside the building," Chief Shawn Whited of Pasco County Fire Rescue said. "We haven’t been able to enter those buildings yet just because of the amount of fire and the number of hazards that are in there.”
A front end loader also responded to assist in the firefighting efforts.
This part of Pasco County is rural and there are no water hydrants nearby. Firefighters had to use tankers to shuttle water in from three miles away.
Fire crews from Hernando, Sumter, and Polk counties assisted Pasco County Fire Rescue in the effort to contain and extinguish the flames.
Cal-Maine Foods is a fresh egg producer. The company accounts for approximately one-quarter of egg consumption in the United States.
The cause of the blaze has not been determined at this time.
This story was first reported by Sean O'Reilly at WFTS in Tampa Bay, Florida.