Shropshire Star

Most of 16,000-strong flock survived Oswestry chicken shed fire

Almost 16,000 chickens escaped unharmed after a massive blaze broke out at a farm on the outskirts of Oswestry.

The fire service at the shed fire at Middleton, near Oswestry

The laying hens were kept in a large barn at the farm in Middleton, but although the blaze took 42 firefighters more than four hours to completely extinguish, most of the birds were unharmed.

Farm owner David Woollam said he still had not been able to get into the barn last night to assess the damage, but that the majority of the hens had been moved into another shed.

"The chickens are nearly all alive. We're sorting them out quietly and we'll carry on – business as usual," he said.

"It's really what we can do about the damage now. I would think the fire was an electrical one, but the fire officer in charge is looking around still."

Forty-two firefighters, five fire engines, a water carrier, a water bowser and four officers tackled the fire which broke out at the farm just off the B5009 at Middleton shortly before 8am yesterday. It is understood the fire started on the conveyor system.

The blaze was under control from about 9.15am, and firefighters then used an aerial ladder and cutting equipment to get through the metal roof to hotspots inside.

Martin Timmis, head of prevention and protection at Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service, said the chickens had seemed more interested in what was going on than distressed by the fire, which was contained to the roof area and the elevated conveyor system.

"We dispatched five appliances and crews worked very quickly to bring the majority of the fire under control and to try to safeguard as many of the chickens as possible," he said.

"We pumped the water from a nearby pond about a quarter of a mile away but this fire was more of a challenge because the building was metal and so putting water on top wasn't going to do anything.

"The difference is that we had to bring in steel cutters to get into the roof while it's still on fire. It was a tricky operation from that point."

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