About 50,000 chickens died on Wednesday in a large barn fire in the village of Puiflijk in the Netherlands.
The animals were locked in a barn that caught fire last night due to an unknown cause. The fire spread quickly due to the strong wind, Dutch broadcaster NOS reported.
The fire brigade allowed the barn to burn. A nearby barn, which also has around 50,000 chickens locked up, was kept wet.
The fire was discovered by company employees who live next to the barns. They were unable to remove the chickens from the barn. Firefighters couldn’t do that either because it was deemed too dangerous for them. There were no sprinklers in the barns.
Barn fires in the Netherlands
Stable fires have become common in the Netherlands, often killing many animals. The country’s animal welfare is seriously threatened by them.
Large numbers of animals are frequently locked up in barns, and fires can result in the loss of thousands of animal lives in a single incident.
The most common cause of barn fires is electrical failure. The Dutch government, animal welfare groups and farmers have been working to implement preventive measures.
But last October, the Dutch Safety Board (OvV) reported that the approach to barn fires is stagnating and fire safety is not improving in the Netherlands.
In March 2021, the OvV published a report with recommendations to reduce the number of barn fires. The board now concludes that these still need to be implemented.
In 2022, more than 130,000 stable animals died in 42 barn fires.
According to the OvV, the urgency among animal farmers to take measures against barn fires needs to be improved. “Animal farmers assume that a barn fire will not happen to them and therefore do not invest in fire safety of their barns,” the OvV said.
“A barn fire is a terrible way to die. When animals notice that there is a fire, they are trapped like rats. You hope that animals suffocate before they catch fire because that is much more painful,” Anne Hillhorst from the animal welfare organization Wakker Dier said.
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