All not lost
Chickmont official says bajans will still have turkeys for christmas
A major fire at a farm operated by Chickmont Foods Ltd has caused more than $770,000 in losses and depleted the farm’s turkey stock by half.
The blaze, which began around 4 pm on the windward side of the 400-foot pen at ZRS Farms on Ridge Road, Christ Church, quickly spread, destroying an estimated 7,600 two-week-old turkeys and the $700,000 pen in which they were housed.
However, general manager and director of Chickmont Foods, Edward Albecker who estimated the losses, said Barbadians should not worry about any shortage of turkeys as a result of the disaster.
“We would be able to replace those turkeys in time for Christmas so we won’t be out of turkeys for Christmas,” he told Barbados TODAY.
“We would have to make some strategic changes but we can do it because all of our pens are not full. We can move around some chickens and find a place to put the turkeys for Christmas. We already have a pen that is vacant that we have on hand that we can use.”
While he acknowledged it was a blow to the company, he remained optimistic.
“That’s what you have insurance for. These are all prefabricated pens so these pens would come in about four or five containers and that would be rebuilt in about six weeks after getting the materials. Within 16 weeks it would be replaced,” Albecker said.
Operations manager at Chickmont Foods, Trevor Gunby, meantime, said the destruction of the pen was a big loss.
“It’s what you call a tunnel ventilation house. It’s environmentally-controlled, everything is controlled. The birds don’t know day or night . . . If the bird is a day old or the bird is five weeks old, the temperature and the whole environment is different based on the age of the bird,” he explained.
Chickmont officials were relieved, however, that the two workers, who were on duty when the fire began, escaped unhurt.
The employees told Barbados TODAY they were still in shock.
“We does check the pens before we leave,” said general worker Rupert Carew, who has been working at ZRS Farms for the past two years. “On my way out I see the black smoke and I turned back. The black smoke was coming from the back of the building and by the time I get to call the boss the fire had run right through the pen. I’ve never seen nothing like this happen.”
His co-worker, Cuthbert Holder, said he too was at a loss about what could have caused the blaze.
“I can’t tell if it’s gas or electrical. I don’t know. I just come out the pen, me and the other guy,” said Holder, a three-year employee of the company.
As thick plumes of smoke rose from the building, two water tenders and a tanker manned by more than ten fire officers rushed to the scene.
Divisional officer of the Barbados Fire Service, Tyrone Trotman, said they had to take particular care in dealing with the situation to avoid further catastrophe.
“There were LPG tanks and we had to make sure those were taken care of while we tried to extinguish the fire,” he said, adding that the inferno, fuelled by the wind, had spread to a nearby pasture.
“They [firefighters] went to replenish the tank and as they were coming back, we recognised that on the western side of the farm some of the pasture down there were burning so we got a tender to respond to that.”