Australian firefighters were in for a load of trouble after a fire at a cattle services building caused 100 vats of bull semen to blow early Tuesday morning.
For 20 years, Yarram Herd Services has provided a range of services including artificial insemination, calf dehorning, and ultrasound pregnancy testing for cattle and dairy farmers in Victoria, Australia, as well as semen for DIY operators. Loud explosions woke up neighbors to the facility around 3 a.m. local time, WIN News Gippsland reporter Bonnie Barkmeyer tweeted. Officials are investigating the cause of the blaze, which took 40 firefighters over 2 hours to rub out.
Country Fire Authority Gippsland commander Chris Loeschenkohl told the ABC that heat from the fire caused the cryogenic cylinders storing the semen to pressurize and explode. Firefighters, he said, “went into a defensive mode initially to protect themselves” from the flying projectiles.
"The liquid inside the cylinders was rapidly expanding and essentially the lids of the cryogenic cylinders were just popping off the top and projectiles were being thrown from the building," he said.
The fire came at an inopportune time for the rapidly approaching artificial insemination season.
The cylinders, which were full of bull spunk, each cost between $342 and $685 USD, but Yarram Herd Services Committee vice chairman Aaron Thomas told ABC that “the semen inside them varies in price,” from $3 to $65 USD per semen straw.
He added that at this time of year there would have been substantial amounts of semen inside the containers, which were owned by local farmers. The explosion follows a debilitating drought that cost Gippsland farmers as much as 70 percent of their incomes by some estimates.
"It's going to be a huge blow, especially for our farmers,” Thomas said.