Coopersville-Polkton Fire Chief Scott Schoolcraft said he also didn’t know how many turkeys died in the early afternoon fire on Saturday.
Firefighters from a dozen departments responded to a blaze reported as a fully involved barn fire when the first officials arrived on the scene shortly before 2 p.m. Saturday on 76th Avenue north of Garfield Street.
A mushroom cloud of smoke was visible from as far west as the M-104 bridge in Spring Lake, as well as for miles on I-96.
Schoolcraft said that as soon as he saw the smoke that he started calling for help. The additional departments were needed to transport water, as there are no fire hydrants close to the farm.
“The roof collapsed shortly after we got here,” Schoolcraft said. “We’re waiting for an excavator to lift the collapsed roof so we can see what we have.”
The fire was under control in about 30 minutes, but firefighters continued to put out smaller fires as they pulled the metal building apart for the next couple hours.
Schoolcraft said his firefighters were conducting a toy drive for the Toys for Tots program when they got the alarm.
The closest neighbor to the south of the turkey farm said her husband heard the dog barking, saw smoke and alerted her.
“Not two minutes later, when I got out here, it was totally engulfed (in flames),” she said.
At that point, vehicles were already parked on the side of the road and she could hear sirens in the distance.
The local canteen was called, as were requests to some of the departments to bring light trailers.
“We’re going to be here a while,” the chief said.
A bystander familiar with the farm said that one of the buildings was being readied to bring a new batch of chicks.
One of the barns contained adult turkeys, but some of them survived, he said.
Assisting fire departments included: Allendale, Alpine, Blendon, Casnovia, Chester, Conklin, Crockery, Fruitport, Olive, Ravenna, Robinson and Wright-Tallmadge.