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Crews Respond To Fire, Find Nearly 100 Chickens In Basement

HAZLETON — City officials said they found almost 100 chickens living in a home in Hazleton.

The birds were found after firefighters came to the house for a report of a fire Wednesday afternoon. Now the city is working to remove them.

“You don’t expect to see that. Birds in a home I’ve never expected to see,” said Hazleton Deputy Fire Chief Brian Mandack.

Pictures of chickens in cages taken by Mandack came not from inside a barn but in the basement of a double-block home in the city of Hazleton.

Firefighters came to the house in the 700 block of North Vine Street for the report of a fire and found dozens and dozens of chickens, including hens, roosters, baby chicks and eggs.

“We ended up coming across or stumbling across what appears to be, at this 97 chickens was the last count the health officer and I were to get,” said Mandack. “They are feeding them and watering, someone is taking care of them.”

“Chickens are being housed in a basement illegally because according to the city’s animal ordinance, in order to have chickens you have to 40,000 square feet and this is really ridiculous, the smells from the chickens,” said Hazleton’s Health Officer Mark Thompson.

Mandack said city officials questioned the homeowner, who gave them a series of conflicting answers.

“He had told me that he didn’t know where the birds came from, that he bought the house and he didn’t know they were down there and then ‘ok, just get them out of here I don’t want them, I don’t need any problems,’” said Mandack.

City officials have now arranged for two farmers to take the chickens.

Thompson said removing the chickens will be a process.

“This is the largest number of chickens we’ve found in one place,” said Thompson. “Logistically I don’t know exactly how they’re going to do it, but they’re going to have a sufficient number of crates to put the chickens in.”

Mandack said the basement was condemned and the rest of the house most likely will be as well since faulty wiring was found throughout.

A utility crew will cut power once the chickens are removed.

“There are a ton of electrical issues, but the electricity is supplying the heat lamps to the chicks,” said Mandack.

Mandack said the two farmers are expected sometime Thursday. He told us the Hazleton Police Department is investigating the chicken discovery, and charges could be filed pending that outcome.

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