Former Albert Lea firefighter loses chicken flock in barn fire

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(ABC 6 News) – Mike Czaplewski is familiar with fires.

"Through my years of service I’ve seen fires and been to other people’s houses for them," Czaplewski said.

Czaplewski, a former Albert Lea firefighter, lost a barn full of chickens last night because of a fire. A passerby called and reported the fire around 11:45 pm Tuesday.

"We know this homeowner very well. He was one of our former on-call firefighters. He does things to a ‘T’ but you know accidents happen sometimes," said Albert Lea Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Lakowske.

Czaplewski retired from the Albert Lea fire department three years ago. Now, he’s on the other side of fire rescue.

"A police officer said your building is on fire. And I looked out the window and I could see the flames," Czaplewski said.

His barn had around 20 chickens and chicks. He sells eggs to his neighbors and takes them to the Twin Cities.

"This is just a hobby," he said.

When the barn caught fire, he had his old comrades there during the blaze.

"When they were here and I saw who it was, I felt more comfortable. But it was still emotional," Czaplewski said.

The barn is a total loss and all of the chickens died. However, Czaplewski is glad his rooster, Gosha, made it out alive. He wants to wait until he knows more about the damage to decide whether or not to rebuild. But he knows that help is always a phone call away.