Fire kills tens of thousands of chickens at farm in Wright County


A Saturday night fire destroyed a poultry building at Forsman Farms. A farm spokesperson says at least tens of thousands of chickens were killed in the fire.

HOWARD LAKE, Minn. — Cleanup is underway at Forsman Farms in Howard Lake after a fire on Saturday night.

According to the Wright County Sheriff’s Office, crews responded to the scene off Highway 12 around 10 p.m.

Sgt. Troy Wachter told KARE 11 the fire destroyed a poultry building with an estimated 200,000 chickens inside.

Forsman Farms spokesperson Jon Austin said they do not have a firm number yet but they’re estimating at least tens of thousands of chickens were killed, up to a couple hundreds of thousands. Some chickens in adjacent buildings were also affected, mostly from smoke inhalation. 

Eddie Olson was having a bonfire in his backyard, about six miles away in Cokato, when he started hearing sirens. 

“I’m a SKYWARN spotter so I do a lot of radio communications and stuff and this is one of maybe 50 radios I have. I just grabbed one and heard that they were dispatching other departments. So I knew it was big,” Olson said. 

Olson filmed video at the scene of the fire. 

“It’s a lot of chickens. It’s a hit to the egg market, it’s people’s jobs, it’s a local community. So any time anything big like that happens, it’s not good,” Olson said.

Officials say no injuries were reported, but there was extensive damage to property.

In a statement, Austin said, “Overnight, a fire destroyed one of our barns at our Howard Lake farm. No one was injured and we are grateful that first responders were quickly on scene to put out the fire. Unfortunately, chickens were lost because of the fire. We are evaluating the extent of the damage – which appears to be confined to a single structure – as well as investigating the cause of the fire.”

The Wright County Sheriff’s Office said the farm fire is believed to have been accidental but the state fire marshal is investigating the cause.

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