03/24/2012 05:54 EDT | Updated 05/24/2012 05:12 EDT

20,000 birds die in poultry farm fire

An early morning fire at a poultry farm west of Canora, Sask., destroyed a barn with some 20,000 chicks inside, RCMP say.

The fire, at the Coastal Poultry Farm, was discovered around 6:30 a.m. CST Saturday and fire crews from Canora were dispatched to the scene.

"When we rolled up the flames were just above the roof, a couple of feet, and coming out some of the side vents," local fire chief Michael Doogan, told CBC News on Saturday. "The whole building is tin, on the outside, and [the fire] kind of contained itself inside the building."

Doogan estimated the structure was some 40 metres long and about 10 metres wide.

He said workers at the scene told him that they had just added birds to the barn earlier in the week.

Doogan said the chickens likely perished inside the building well before fire crews arrived as there were no injured birds noticed when the fire trucks got to the scene. The fire was called in by a passer by who saw flames.

Two other structures on the property, including a newly built chicken barn, were not damaged in the fire.

RCMP said no people were hurt in the fire, but the loss to the business was significant.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, although RCMP said it did not appear suspicious.

Canora is about 200 kilometres northeast of Regina.