Massive Semen Explosion after Blaze Hits Bull Artificial Insemination Facility, Firefighters Forced to Dodge 'Projectiles'

A huge fire at a cattle breeding facility in Australia has caused thousands of dollars in damage after at least 100 cylinders containing bull semen were destroyed.

Emergency services were called to the blaze in the early hours at Yarram Herd Services in Gippsland, Victoria.

According to ABC, it took 10 fire crews more than two hours to fully extinguish the fire after it broke out around 3 a.m. local time.

A spokesman from the Country Fire Authority told Daily Mail Australia that the fire had "completely shredded the building."

Country Fire Authority Gippsland commander Chris Loeschenkohl said the crew had to be wary of "projectiles" coming at them while they tackled the blaze.

"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 told ABC.

"So firefighters went into a defensive mode initially to protect themselves, because there were also LPG cylinders at the neighboring property, and they did a magnificent job."

Loeschenkohl added that he has never had "anything to do with the artificial insemination (AI) side of things before" during his career.

Fire investigators on scene following a blaze that completely destroyed the Yarram Herd Services building last night. Cause of the fire is still being investigated. More on @WINNews_Gip #gippsnews

— Bonnie Barkmeyer (@BonnieBarkmeyer) September 17, 2019

Yarram Herd Services Committee vice chairman Aaron Thomas said the loss of 100 cryogenic cylinders of cattle semen will be a "huge blow" for the farmers.

"The actual cylinders are worth between $500 (U.S. $342) and $1,000 per unit but the semen inside them varies in price," he said.

"We're coming into the AI season so there would have been substantial amounts of semen inside the tanks that we've lost, which was owned by our local farmers, and it can range in value from $5 per straw to $95 per straw."

Thomas said the farmers have also lost a lot of equipment as a result of the fire.

"So this is significant damage and it is going to have a flow-on effect on Yarram, especially after the drought that Yarram district has experienced over the last 12 months."

(File photo) Herd of Charolais bulls on a cattle property in the wildnerness of the Australian Outback, Queensland. Around 100 cylinders of bull semen have been destroyed in a fire ravaged at a cattle breeding facility in Victoria, Australia. Tim Graham/Corbis/Getty

Earlier this year, ABC reported that farmers in Gippsland were losing as much as 70 percent of their regular income due to a lack of rainfall and weeds causing what is known as a green drought.

"A green drought is a drought through the wintertime where we have a green cover but there's no actual growth coming from any desirable pasture species," explained Rodwells Sale agronomist Casey Willis.

"A lot of what's being grown in paddocks at the moment is weeds and they have little to no nutritional value for stock."

Yarram Herd Services had been providing artificial insemination as well as other services such as calf dehorning and freeze-branding services for farmers in Gippsland for the past 20 years.

An investigation to determine the cause of the fire is underway.

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