Over 74,000 chicks worth RM1.5 million were burnt to death when a chicken coup at a farm here was gutted in a blaze this morning. Pic by NSTP/courtesy of Johor Fire and Rescue Department

YONG PENG: Over 74,000 chicks worth RM1.5 million were burnt to death when a chicken coup at a farm here was gutted in a blaze this morning.

Poultry farmer Lee Swee Fong, 50, who has been operating the farm for 26 years, said he was saddened by the loss, as it was the first time that such a mishap had occurred.

"Luckily, my four workers are all safe. They had tried to save the chicks trapped in the coop, but when the situation became dangerous, I did not allow them to continue saving the chicks, which had just hatched three days ago," he said.

Lee said he and his workers were on their usual rounds checking the coop at about 6.30am, when one of the 36 gas oxygen cylinders used to heat the coop exploded.

“There might have been a leak in one of the cylinders which triggered a chain explosion," he said.

Meanwhile, Yong Peng Fire and Rescue Department operation chief Asroy Yahya said 14 firefighters on two fire engines from Yong Peng and Ayer Hitam fire stations were deployed to the scene.

Asroy said the chicken coop, measuring 300 metres, was completely destroyed in the fire, but they managed to stop the blaze from spreading to other units.

"The fire was brought under control in 10 minutes and we are still investigating the cause," he added.

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