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Blaze kills thousands of chickens
Chicken house destroyed
Chicken Coop Fire 2 web es
Authorities say the remnants of Tuesday's chicken house fire on Nicholson Road could smoke for a couple days. - photo by Emily Saunders
Officials have not determined what caused a fire that killed nearly 23,000 chickens Tuesday afternoon on a northwestern Forsyth County farm.

Forsyth County Fire Capt. Jason Shivers said rain Wednesday delayed the probe, but investigators do not think the blaze was suspicious.

“They do want to try to get to the bottom of it if at all possible,” Shivers said.

No people were hurt in the fire, which Fire Capt. Kevin Wallace said was reported about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at JTV Farms on Nicholson Road.

The flames destroyed one chicken house, containing 22,600 chickens.

White smoke billowed from the charred remnants of the flattened metal structure as firefighters hosed down pockets of flames.

Crews stayed at the site until about 7:45 p.m. Tuesday.

“These go up pretty quick,” Wallace said. “The way they’re built, and with the truss system inside, if any part of the roof fails, most of the time it goes up pretty quickly.”

Wallace said the chickens inside were three weeks old.

He said the remnants could smoke for two to three days. Chicken houses on either side were not damaged.

“They operate separately, so they’re still functioning,” he said.

James Voerg, the owner of the farm, said he checked the chicken house about 2:15 p.m. and left to get some lunch.

He returned and was eating a sandwich at home when a neighbor came by at 3:10 p.m. and told him about the fire.

He said the structure, which was 40 feet by 400 feet, was flat on the ground. A short time later, it was destroyed.

Voerg, who has been in the poultry business for 20 years, said he spent a much of Wednesday on the phone with insurers and the state Department of Agriculture.

"There are various things that have to be done in an instance when there's 23,000 dead chickens," he said.

Voerg said the remaining three houses each contain about 22,600 chickens. Due to temperatures, the amount kept varies by time of year.

He said the birds are not kept in cages. In fact, they're "free to have all the fun they want to have."

Voerg said he didn't expect the cleanup to be too extensive and that the fire likely got so hot that "most of those chickens are not in any condition where they will propose any kind of problems."

"There is no sale on barbecue chicken here," he said.