HAZLETON -- Animal rescue officers removed all those chickens that were found in the basement of a home that caught fire in Hazleton.
At the same time, Hazleton officials are trying to find out how and why the chickens were in the home in the first place.
They were discovered Wednesday night in the basement of a home in Hazleton after emergency crews went there for reports of a fire.
Animal rescue crews left the house on North Vine Street in Hazleton late Thursday in a truck carrying cages full of chickens. It took two hours to get all of the animals out of the basement.
On Wednesday, officials discovered 97 chickens after responding to a fire in the building. They say it appears that some of the chickens were removed overnight.
Officials say having chickens in the basement of the house violates a city ordinance that chickens must be kept in a space of at least 40,000 square feet.
The homeowner faces citations and fines.
A city health official says when asked about the chickens, the homeowner claimed he didn't know they were there.
The chickens are on their way to the Lands at Hillside Farms in the back mountain area of Luzerne County.
Police are investigating the possibility that the chickens were being kept for cockfighting but a city health official say that's hard to prove.