Hundreds of animals dead after 5-alarm fire at historic Waukesha Co. farm
Jon Byman, Stacey Naughton and Jay Sorgi
TOWN OF GENESSEE - A five-alarm barn fire has broken out in Waukesha County, leading to the death of lots of pheasant chicks.
A farm employee tells TODAY'S TMJ4's Melissa McCrady that 600 chicks passed away.
It would have been thousands more, had another barn burned to the ground.
The fire began at about 2:45 a.m. at the Wern Valley Pheasant Farm. One barn burned to the ground, while another was damaged.
Courtney McCormick lives in an apartment on the farm and works there. She saw the fire.
"I was like, 'Oh my God! The barn's on fire!' I called 911," said McCormick to Melissa.
"The firemen were screaming 'You've got to get out of here!' "
People living in the farm house and nearby apartments evacuated without injuries.
A firefighter and sheriff's deputy were injured during the battle to fight the fire.
Firefighters believe a propane-powered heating lamp, used to keep the chicks warm, started the fire. That fire spread fast, to a second barn and a nearby house.
29 different fire departments responded to the fire.
"There were three large propane tanks. One of those did actually explode in the back," said Wales-Genesee Fire Dept. Chief Jim Moon.
According to its website, this farm has an amazing history.
It has been in the same family's hands since it was founded in 1848, several months before Wisconsin became a state.
"It's really sad," said McCormick. "There was a lot of history that was lost because the barns were over 100 years old, and there's a lot of cool stuff inside there."
Melissa reports that the hunting club on the property raises chickens for customers to come, purchase and hunt.