Fire destroys building at USDA lab, site of past raid

Fire destroys empty chicken barn at a USDA research lab in Maryland and site of 1987 raid. Cause remains under investigation.

by Peter Young

usdachickenfarmA fire is under investigation at a large USDA agricultural research center in Beltsville, Maryland. A multi-story chicken barn went up in flames at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center on March 14th. No animals were in the building at the time of the fire, and no animals were harmed.

There has been no public speculation by investigators as to the fire’s cause, and the fire remains under investigation.

Lab was target of 1980s raid

The research center was the target of a raid claimed by the Band of Mercy, who broke into the facility in 1987, rescuing 36 cats and 7 pigs.

The facility, run by the USDA, conducts animal research to benefit various animal and non-animal industries, including the meat industry.

Second mysterious fire at the lab in 15 years

The Beltsville Agricultural Research Center was the site of another unsolved fire in 1999. In that incident, an under-renovation research building was destroyed by an overnight fire. 100 firefighters with 35 pieces of equipment battled the blaze, which destroyed the building and caused $4 million in damages. Again, investigators would not speculate as to a cause.