SHARTLESVILLE, Pa. (CBS/AP) — Nearly 70,000 chickens perished early Thursday as fire swept through several buildings at a Pennsylvania farm. Firefighters were faced with flames and thick smoke when they arrived at A&L Farms in Berks County.

A fire official told WFMZ-TV two buildings were burned to the ground and an egg house sustained partial damage.

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“The pond we use was filled with sludge,” Shartlesville Fire Company First Assistant Chief Steven Kauffman told WFMZ-TV. “We couldn’t get water out of the ponds, so we had to go to a secondary pond. That was full with sludge and halfway emptied, so we had a struggle getting water to the scene.”

Firefighters needed to bring in tankers to fight the blaze because a small pond on the property was clogged with slushy ice and could not be used to pump water on the flames.

This was the third fire at the farm in recent years. A fire in 2019 claimed the lives of more than 37,000 chickens and a fire in 2015 destroyed an empty barn.

A fire marshal was expected to investigate the cause of the latest blaze.

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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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