On Tuesday afternoon, a barn fire on the Hilldale Hutterite Colony north of Havre ended up killing all of the colony’s nearly 7,400 chickens.
The colony’s secretary, Andy Waldner, said that little could have been done.
“The barn just burnt down,” Waldner said. “Seven thousand four hundred birds. All gone. The smoke took them before the fire could even get to them. You couldn’t do nothing.”
Waldner said that the St. Joseph Rural Fire Department got the call and responded. But when they arrived, there was little to do other than make sure the blaze couldn’t spread to the other buildings around the barn.
Randy Bessette, the contact for the St. Joseph Fire Department, couldn’t be reached this morning for comment.
Hill County Sheriff Don Brostrom said that his office sent one deputy to help however possible, directing traffic.
Those 7,400 chickens were providing 95 percent of the eggs sold at Gary & Leo’s Fresh Foods, according to the store’s manager Tracy Job.
“We’ll have to buy from our Super Value warehouse in Billings,” Job said. “Our heart goes out to them, and we hope they can get up and running real soon.”
Waldner said this morning that they would be working soon to build a new barn.
This would only be a fraction of the cost of filling the barn which, at Waldner’s $3-a-bird estimate, could cost more than $22,000.