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Shop ruined, chickens safe after rural fire

Dec 30, 2013 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

No one was injured, and the incident does not appear to be

suspicious -- although it was unusual.

Firefighters were surrounded by chickens Thursday evening while they fought a blaze on Haymaker Road north of Riverton.

The call came in at about 5:20 p.m. Thursday, when a witness said a workshop appeared to be on fire.

Riverton Volunteer Fire Department chief Mike Hutchison said the flames emanated from the back corner of a wood shop that was attached to a chicken coop and a dog kennel.

"It started ... in the chicken coop area," he said. "The homeowner said there was a heat lamp plugged in, and so we're kind of thinking that might've been the cause of it."

No one was injured, he said, and the incident does not appear to be suspicious, though it was unusual due to the presence of the squawking birds.

"I think they all got out," Hutchison said. "There were chickens running around all over."

He said the menagerie also included some kind of domestic goose.

"There were a whole bunch of birds," he said. "(There was) a big, enclosed, fenced-in area with a tall fence, and they were out in that part of (the yard). As far as I know they were all OK."

He believes the animals in the dog pen also escaped unharmed.

The fire destroyed the workshop structure and its contents - mainly woodworking equipment and tools - and did moderate damage to the outside of a neighboring garage, Hutchison said.

"It didn't get inside and didn't hurt any of the contents in the garage," he said. "(It contained) a car, a four-wheeler and a bunch of equipment."

When he arrived on scene, Hutchison said the chicken coop, dog kennel and wood shop building all were involved in 20-25 foot tall flames.

"We tried to isolate that and keep it from impinging on the garage that had started on fire," he said.

"The second engine company was assigned to the neighbor's garage. They got that knocked down pretty quickly."

No residential buildings were damaged, but Hutchison said the fire may have spread to homes if emergency responders hadn't arrived in time.

The crew included 18 firefighters with two engine companies, a rescue company and two tankers for water supply.

Hutchison said they were at the scene for a couple of hours, during which a crowd gathered to watch the goings on.

"There were a lot of people coming down Haymaker wanting to see," he said. "We ended up having the Sheriff's office close off that portion of Haymaker so someone didn't get run over."

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