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Fire destroys barn, kills thousands of ducks at Wild Acres Processing

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Firefighters Wednesday, Aug. 1, hose down a metal barn at Wild Acres Processing in Ideal Township, while smoke billows out. The fire killed thousands of ducks. Jennifer Kraus / Brainerd Dispatch2 / 5
Pequot Lakes firefighters Wednesday water down the remnants of metal from a barn torn down by a front loader at Wild Acres Processing in Ideal Township. Thousands of ducks were killed in the barn. It's unknown what caused the fire. Jennifer Kraus / Brainerd Dispatch3 / 5
Firefighters Wednesday, Aug. 1, hose down a metal barn at Wild Acres Processing in Ideal Township, while smoke billows out. The fire killed thousands of ducks. Jennifer Kraus / Brainerd Dispatch4 / 5
Pequot Lakes firefighters Wednesday. Aug. 1, hose down the remnants of metal from a barn torn down by a front loader after a fire at Wild Acres Processing in Ideal Township. The cause of the fire is unknown. Jennifer Kraus / Brainerd Dispatch5 / 5

PEQUOT LAKES—About 2,000-3,000 Pekin ducks were killed and 1,500 square bales of hay burned early Wednesday, Aug. 1, after a fire destroyed a metal livestock barn at Wild Acres Processing Inc. in rural Pequot Lakes.

"This is hard to see," Kaylene Ebnet said as she watched the fire destroy her family's barn. Ebnet's parents Pat and Kelli Ebnet own the farm fresh poultry business and Kaylene and her brother are the managers. Kaylene Ebnet said if she or her brother take the farm over someday they would be the third generation of their family to do so.

The fire was reported at 7:43 a.m. Wednesday. Law enforcement personnel from three agencies and ambulances from North Memorial were on scene all morning while firefighters from four departments worked on extinguishing the blaze.

"We've never had a fire before," Kaylene Ebnet said. "My dad (who was not at the farm) called me about the fire. Somebody who lives up the road saw some smoke and drove up here and saw that something was on fire and called 911. I ran here when I found out and went to the nursery to see if I could save any of (the ducks) but they were all dead ...

"At least no one was hurt. There was smoke and flames everywhere, the ground was even on fire."

Flames and smoke were heavy when firefighters arrived. Ideal Fire Chief Ryan Schultz said firefighters conducted a defensive attack as the roof of the metal 50-foot by 200-foot structure was caving in.

"When you have a large metal building like this, with the roof caving in, you can't get water to the fire," Schultz said.

As smoke billowed out of the barn, several firefighters worked on both ends of the building, extinguishing what they could. Crews used a nearby front loader to tear down the barn so firefighters could get to the flames inside.

"It takes a lot of manpower to put this out," Schultz said. "We had to start tearing it down with a front loader we found down the road. You can't do this type of fire with just one department. You need to call for mutual aid. We always have each other's back and whenever you get a big structure fire we know we have to call each other to get it done."

Nisswa, Pequot Lakes and Pine River fire departments provided mutual aid to the Ideal Fire Department. The Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office and the Pequot Lakes and Breezy Point police departments also assisted at the scene.

Schultz said Mark Germain with the Minnesota State Fire Marshal's Office will investigate, as the cause of the fire has not been determined. The fire is not suspicious, he added.

There are six barns on the property off Wild Acres Road, northeast of Pequot Lakes in Ideal Township. Kaylene Ebnet said the barn that burned down was just built last year, and was their newest barn. The barn was used for their "breeder ducks," which lay eggs for their stock.

"We will now have to make some changes," Kaylene Ebnet said.

Kaylene Ebnet said the family processes about 1,000 to 1,500 birds a week. She said they raise all their birds which include ducks, chickens, turkeys and pheasants.

According to Wild Acres Processing website, the business began in 1978 and specializes in outdoor-raised domestic poultry and wild game birds. It supplies poultry to many of the top restaurants in the Twin Cities—about 68 total accounts in the metro alone, Ebnet said.

Wild Acres also has a hunting club and a gravel pit on its property, but they are separate businesses.

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