DADE CITY, Fla. — More than 200,000 chickens are dead after a 2-alarm fire swept through Cal-Maine Foods in Dade City overnight.

Three large barns caught fire. Each barn contains approximately 80,000 chickens. The farm is owned by Cal-Maine Foods out of Mississippi. Many of their eggs are branded as Eggland’s Best of Land O’ Lakes. 

What You Need To Know

  • Overnight fire at Cal-Maine Foods in Dade City

  • Crews said three large barns holding 250,000 chickens were destroyed

  • Tanker trucks brought in due to rural location having no hydrants

Fire crews arrived on scene at 1 a.m. and called for a second alarm to the location at 41040 Simpson Farm Lane.

Firefighters faced several challenges at the rural location and were on the scene for more than 12 hours. There were no nearby hydrants, forcing crews to use tanker trucks.

Also, propane tanks throughout the chicken houses exploded, making fighting the fire more difficult.

"We are out in rural eastern Pasco County," said Pasco Fire Division Chief Shawn Whited. "There aren’t any hydrants out here, so we had to bring in tanker trucks. We had assistance from Polk County Fire Rescue, Hernando County Fire Rescue, Sumter County Fire Rescue, along with Pasco County Fire Rescue to fight the fire since about 1:00 this morning."

There were no other injuries.

The state fire marshal is investigating the cause.

Cal-Main Foods CFO Max Bowman told us in a phone interview that the Dade City farm accounts for 2-3% of the company's total egg production.

He said the chickens that were killed are called pullets, meaning they are young females who don’t lay eggs yet. While it’s a big loss, he says they are hoping it won’t affect their overall production.

He also said they lost about 250,000 chickens, which is about half of what they usually have.

The company is grateful for Pasco County firefighters who worked to put the fire out.