50,000 ducks died on New Year’s Day when a fire broke out at a farm in Racine that supplies the Brome Lake company.

The fire began just before 7 p.m. in one of two barns on the property about 120 kilometres east of Montreal.

Firefighters from four towns assembled to battle the flames, and while they were not able to save the building and the tens of thousands of ducks, they were able to stop the fire from spreading to a second barn.

The fire chief suspects the cause was either a mechanical or electrical fault.

Employees showing up for work on Monday said they did not know what was going to happen, but said their main concern was caring for the 50,000 ducks that survived the fire.

The farm’s owner Mario Cote told CTV Montreal that he planned to rebuild, and would begin doing so as soon as the fire department gave him permission to remove debris and start working.

“We have no choice but to live with it,” he said.

He also said that he would do his best to maintain the employment of the 200 people who worked at the farm, saying those who normally tended to ducks in the destroyed barn would be asked to help clean up the debris.

The farm also has an odd problem: where to put new ducklings that arrive on a regular basis. With fowl scheduled to arrive frequently to be raised, the farm owner was asking other farmers in the area to raise the ducklings. 

“We are using space at farms from our competitors,” said Cote.

Since 1912, Brome Lake Ducks has raised and bred the aquatic birds, and said it is one of the largest employers in the region.

The fire destroyed 15 per cent of its production.