MARSEILLES, Ohio — A major fire near the Marion/Wyandot County line destroyed a warehouse at an egg facility owned by Ohio Fresh Eggs.
The fire was reported around 11 p.m. March 23 and remains under investigation. An estimated 250,000 laying hens were euthanized after electric in some of the buildings had to be shut off, and some of the birds suffered from issues with ventilation and smoke inhalation.
Kevin Elder, executive director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Livestock Environmental Permitting program, said Ohio Fresh Eggs was permitted to keep 2.4 million birds and had about 2.2 million on hand.
He said the birds were euthanized according to industry standards and none were known to have died in the fire. He said those euthanized were nearing the end of their laying cycle and would have been euthanized soon, regardless of the fire.
Ohio Fresh Eggs Spokesperson Hilda Mitchell said she was pleased with the volunteer firefighters and rescuers, who were able to save all but two barns of chickens.
We’re really grateful that a lot o f folks worked really hard and we’ve got 14 barns of healthy hens,” she said.
The fire is believed to have started in a dry-storage area and spread throughout the warehouse. The facility housed birds, processing rooms and offices. It employed about 70.
Although the fire is under control, debris was still smoldering as of March 24, with much work to be done to cleanup the mess.
Wyandot County Emergency Management Director Rodger Brodman said he arrived to the scene around 1:30 a.m. March 24, to find the building fully involved.
“There was a lot of smoke rolling out of the building and you could see flames periodically shooting up through top of roof,” he said.
Reports are that as many as 35 fire departments responded, with more than 100 firefighters. Brodman said firefighters first tackled the top of the blaze, using aerial ladder trucks, but later used a backhoe to knock in walls from the ground level.
Janice Kennedy, of state Route 67, said she awoke around 3 a.m. from hearing loud trucks with flashing lights, but did not know what was going on or how serious it would become.
Elder said ODA staff were on scene, working to keep manure and water separated, and keep the manure away from the fire.
Mitchell did not yet have a dollar amount for the loss, but said the company hopes to rebuild the facility in six-12 months.
Photos courtesy of Ohio Department of Agriculture and Jessica Cuffman/The Marion Star