A day after a fire destroyed two chicken coops and killed as many as 300,000 chickens at Fassio Egg Farms in Erda, employees were beginning to clear debris.
“We’re cleaning up as best as we can,” said Corby Larsen, vice president of operations at Fassio Egg Farms.
The two chicken coops destroyed in the fire were connected to the additional coops and processing plant by a conveyer system, which transported the eggs, Larsen said. The fire used the conveyer system connection to spread from the initial coop into the second building.
Work to clean up the processing plant for operation was underway Wednesday but eggs laid by the farm’s approximately 600,000 remaining chickens are unable to get to refrigeration quickly enough without the conveyer system, Larsen said. As a result, all of the eggs produced since the fire must be disposed of, he said.
The conveyer system is a priority for the farm and Larsen said they hope to have some version of the system in place within the next couple of days. The farm is also looking to replace the chickens killed in the fire within the next few weeks.
Chickens in the adjacent coops are being monitored for effects from the fire and smoke, Larsen said.
While Larsen described Tuesday’s fire as a frightening experience, he said he doesn’t expect a major impact to operations at the egg farm once cleanup is complete and the conveyer system is repaired. He said the farm is focused on bouncing back.
“We’re continuing to reassure employees they have jobs,” Larsen said.
The state fire marshal’s office is investigating the blaze, which started Tuesday morning around 7:30 a.m., but no determination on cause has been made, according to Ryan Willden, North Tooele Fire District public information officer. Preliminary investigations indicate the fire may have been caused by an electrical problem, he said.
Access to sufficient water was a major concern for crews battling the fire, Willden said. Firefighting operations had to be stopped multiple times when crews ran out of water, he said.
“It’s just a scarce resource out here, but in a rural area that doesn’t have hydrants like this, it’s a big challenge,” Willden said.
Units from 10 different agencies provided water tenders, including water tank trucks from sod farms, according to Willden. Between 100,000 and 150,000 gallons of water were shuttled to the egg farm from around the county to fight the fire.
A helicopter dropped water onto the fire from above and fire suppression foam from a Salt Lake International Airport apparatus were also used to combat the fire, in addition to ladder trucks from Tooele City and Grantsville City fire departments.
While there were two large water tanks on site at the egg farm, the generator used to pump water from the tanks was incinerated in the fire, Willden said.