FAIRFIELD — A large storage barn and chicken coop caught fire early Tuesday morning, killing about 600 chickens at the Little River Farm on Mine Hill Road.
Firefighters also rescued a man who was sleeping in a house about 25 feet from the burning barn.
Assistant Fire Chief Roger Caisse said the coop was part of the barn that stored farm equipment. The fire was reported at 4:52 a.m. on Mine Hill Road.
The first arriving fire unit led by Lt. Mark Harry reported heavy smoke and fire coming from a 5,500-square-foot barn with fire exposing an adjacent occupied house. The lone occupant of the house was rescued from the exposed structure and led to safety by firefighters. He was not injured.
The family that lived in the house was found about 100 feet from barn fire. They reported finger laceration injuries from their attempts to release the chickens from the burning barn.
“The homeowner stated there were approximately 700 birds in the coop, ranging from chicks to adult. I would estimate 50-100 were outside the fire area in the yard when daylight broke,” Caisse said. “Due to the barn style of construction, stored fuels and propane tanks, the fire quickly spread throughout the structure, resulting in the collapse of the second floor
“Firefighters were unable to enter the building, but were able to apply cooling water to the propane tanks located in the building to avoid an explosion,” he said.
The fire was brought under control in about 30 minutes. The cause has not been determined.
Along with firefighters and officials, personnel from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Fairfield building and health departments responded.
Westport and Bridgeport fire departments also provided mutual aid and fire coverage for Fairfield stations.
“The quick actions of the first arriving engine company prevented the loss of life to the occupant who was asleep and unaware of the fire,” Caisse said. “Fires like this should serve as a reminder about the importance of having working smoke detectors to alert occupants and an established meeting place outside in the event of a fire.”
According to Little River Farm’s website, in November 2014, Felix and Olivia Charney were looking for land to build their home. They purchased the nearly 9 acres of land on Mine Hill Road in the town’s Greenfield Hill section.
“Although the property allowed for a subdivision with up to four homes, the Charney Family saw an opportunity to build a small family farm on the excess land and raise their two children surrounded by plants, animals and an orchard,” the website said. “In the Spring of 2015, with permission from the town, they cleared the excess land and planted their first ground crops, 150 apple trees and purchased chickens.”
Over the years, the farm was expanded to include hundreds of fruit trees, egg production and vegetable and fruit crops. The farm also sells produce in season at a farm stand Olivia Charney designed on site and at area farmers’ markets and local stores.