PEQUOT LAKES, Minn.-About 2,000 to 3,000 Pekin ducks --some that were headed to top restaurants in the Twin Cities-were killed in a fire early Wednesday, Aug. 1, after a fire destroyed a metal livestock barn at Wild Acres Processing Inc. in rural Pequot Lakes in north-central Minnesota.
"This is hard to see," Kaylene Ebnet said as she watched the fire destroy one of six barns on her family's farms and about 1,500 bales of hay along with the ducks.
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. 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 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.
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.
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 accounts in the metro area alone, Ebnet said.