A large barn fire in Whitchurch-Stouffville Thursday morning has killed thousands of chickens.

The fire broke out just after 7 a.m. on Slaters Road and it was big and moved quickly. It gutted the industrial chicken farm, killing between 20,000 and 25,000 chicken housed inside.

“Initial reports on scene from the guys here was heavy smoke in the roof area and it progressed quickly. It was a defensive attack from the beginning,” says Whitchurch-Stouffville Fire Chief Rob McKenzie.

It took fire crews about three hours to get the fire under control. Half of the building collapsed making the job that much more challenging.

“As the fire progressed through the roof – the barn collapsed at the west end. About two-thirds of the barn is collapsed,” added Chief McKenzie.

Fire crews had to bring in heavy machinery to break through the walls and ceiling to get to the hot spots.

The owner was on location on Thursday but declined to speak with CTV News, but estimates he lost about $80,000 worth of chickens. The farm is a large scale chicken producer – with three barns each about the length of a football field.

The fire department says the fire is not suspicious but they are still trying to determine where the fire started and what caused. There is no official word on the amount of the damage but the fire chief estimates it around $1 million.