UPDATE: Thousands of chickens lost in Rhea County fire - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Thousands of chickens lost in Rhea County fire

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RHEA COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -

UPDATE: Nearly 10,000 chickens were killed in a fire and an electrical issue may have ignited the flames. Crews worked several hours trying to keep the fire from spreading to another chicken house. It all happened on Cunningham Road in Rhea County. When firefighters arrived Sunday afternoon they say more than half of a 600-foot chicken house was fully engulfed.

With 8,000 chickens dead and thousands of dollars in damages, a family farm has lost a lot.

Smoke continues to rise from Cunningham’s Poultry Farm in Spring City. There is little left of the family's livelihood. Debris covers much of the 69 year-old family farm. “Possibly 50 percent of the chicken house was involved,” said Rhea County Fire Chief Jacky Reavley. Firefighters remained on the scene for nearly seven hours. No one was injured in the fire but over 8,000 chickens were lost. Just 50 feet from the burning building stood another full chicken house. Fire fighters were able to salvage it. “We did what we could to prevent the exposure next door to keep any damage from the next house.”

The owner was too emotional to speak with us on camera, but he said the birds were at the end of their life cycle just days from being shipped to Hubbard’s Farm for processing.  Fire Chief Jacky Reavley says there is no environmental impact with this type of fire. “I don't think it’s that serious of an environmental issue, they are taking steps to properly dispose the chickens.”

The family says they're thankful the fire didn't destroy the entire property. “They'll start clean up as soon as they get the okay from the insurance company and then they will start cleaning up.”

The family is currently waiting for the insurance company to give exact estimates of the damages. An initial investigation points to electrical issues as the cause of the fire. A fire investigator is working to confirm that.

Stay with WRCBtv.com for updates to this story.


PREVIOUS STORY: An estimated 8,000 chickens were lost in a fire Sunday.

Rhea County fire fighters were called to 1430 Cunningham Road shortly before 3 p.m. When they arrived more than half of a 600-foot chicken house was fully engulfed in flames.

Fire Chief Jacky Reavley tells Channel 3 the crew’s first priority was keeping the fire from spreading to a second chicken house just 50 feet from the burning building. Fire crews stayed on the scene for nearly seven hours and were able to save the second chicken house, but the first was a total loss, along with about 8,000 chickens that were inside.

Chief Reavley says initial reports point to an electrical issue as the cause, but that has not been officially determined.

Stay with Channel 3 for more on this story. 

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