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Stowaway hitches ride at fire
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Besides soot and sweat, Lancaster firefighters found they took something else with them from a fire last week - a chicken that stowed away on one of the fire trucks that was eventually returned to its rightful owners.

It all began At about 7 p.m. on Friday evening, Oct. 14, when the Platteville Fire Department was called to the Amos Beiler farm at 648 Waterfall Road for a structure fire. Upon arrival, a chicken coop on the property was engulfed in flames.
According to Dave Izzard, Platteville fire chief, because of the high winds, the fire spread to an adjacent machine shed on the property. “It was difficult to get ahead of it,” he said.

Both buildings were destroyed by the fire, along with about 12,000 chickens. Early indications point to a malfunctioning oil lantern as a cause for the fire.

The Platteville Fire Department called in mutual aid from surrounding areas, including the Livingston-Clifton, Lancaster, Rewey, and Montfort fire departments. Firefighters were on scene for several hours. Platteville EMS also responded to treat a few firefighters for fatigue.

Despite most of the chickens being lost in the fire, many had escaped, and were running all over the scene when the firefighters from various departments arrived. "They seemed to be drawn to the fire trucks," said Lancaster firefighter Rocky Shinee, who believes the chickens were drawn to the heat that the trucks were producing.  Shinee states that one may have climbed into the engine compartment of one of the trucks.

"When we got back to the station we did not notice that we had a ride along," Shinee said. It was not until she returned to the station Saturday morning to clean the trucks that the chicken was discovered. "I did attempt to catch it but was unable because it would run under the trucks," Shinee explained. Until Shinee got some more help on Sunday, the chicken was caught.

The loose chicken caused no damage to the station or equipment. Shinee said she found a few messes from the animal, but all were on the floor. 

"I did bring the chicken back to the farm and returned it to its owner. They were thankful. They laughed and said they had chickens all over the place far from the farm and they were trying to collect them all," Shinee said