LA GRANGE - Fire crews in La Grange responded to a call at the Hill Top turkey farm on Brothers Road where thousands of those birds died in the fire. The farm has been contracted through Butterball for nearly ten years.
The call came in around 5:30 a.m., and officials said one of four turkey houses was destroyed. Doug Hill, who owns the property, said the 7,000 birds that died in the fire would have gone to Butterball. There were 20,000 birds total on the farm.
La Grange fire chief Wesley Sutton said the fire started around 2 a.m. Wednesday morning.
"The top of [the house] fell in. It had burned [for] several hours. I think the birds, according to the farmer, had been placed [there] last week sometime so it had young birds in it," Sutton said.
Sutton believes the fire burned slowly. "I don't think it spread pretty quickly. There's not a lot of fire load inside of a turkey house because it's just stick built. There's not framing on the walls. It's just studs and trusses. I think it burned a right good while," he said.
It wasn't until a farm worker went to check on the house a few hours later that anyone noticed the blaze. Fire crews arrived just a short time later.
"When I got out there the house was already on the ground and we didn't put any water on it. It had burned through the night so we weren't able to do anything with it basically," Sutton said.
Sutton credits the farm owner for the fire not spreading. "This farmer had done a really good job with placing his houses in a position that they were far enough apart to keep them from spreading. A lot of times on old farms the houses are really close together and the heat will catch the next house on fire. However, these [houses] were far enough apart that we didn't have that problem," Sutton said.
Turkey farm fires in the area are rare, according to Sutton. "We haven't had a turkey farm fire in probably 10-15 years. It's not common," he said.
Besides the animals, no one else was hurt in the fire.
Fire officials are still looking for the cause of the blaze.