CHASE – As of Thursday night, the cause of a fire that destroyed a hen house at the Cal-Maine Foods plant in rural Rice County Wednesday afternoon and evening remained unknown, said Chase Fire Chief Jason Kilgore. Fire departments from six communities in Rice County battled the blaze for hours. There were no humans injured but the building was a total loss.
Crews first arrived around 3 p.m. and the last units left the scene at about 9 p.m., Kilgore said.
“We pooled resources,” Kilgore said of the outside departments responding as mutual aid. “We’re a small community. It’s better to have them here and have to send them away than to not have them here if we need them.”
The number of animals in the building remains undetermined, he said.
As for the cause, they are leaning towards electrical, but that is undetermined as well. “We haven’t been able to get back in there yet.”
It wasn’t just a routine fire for Kilgore, who worked for Cal-Maine and managed the building that burned.
“It’s a bad deal, especially when you work here,” he said. “It pays the bills.”
Cal-Maine is located at Avenue K and Sixth Road northwest of Chase.
Founded in 1957, Cal-Maine is based in Jackson, Miss. It is the largest producer and marketer of shell eggs in the United States and in fiscal year 2019 it sold over 1 billion dozen shell eggs, which was approximately 19% of domestic shell egg consumption.
It has 15 facilities, most of which are located in the Southeastern United States.