A Canterbury chicken farmer is today counting the cost of the blaze which ripped through his business yesterday and killed 18,000 birds.
Allan Marshall and his wife Judy were enjoying a holiday at picturesque Gore Bay in North Canterbury yesterday when they got a "harrowing" mayday call to say their farm was in danger from a raging scrub fire.
They raced home and two hours later found that their Selwyn Rd chicken farm was a charred and smoking skeleton.
"We lost all of our stock - 18,000 laying birds," said Mr Marshall, who has owned Marshall Eggs for 21 years.
All of the birds were housed in one shed.
Smoke inhalation is being blamed for their deaths.
The danger had not passed for the Marshalls once they got home last night.
Helicopters with monsoon buckets were dumping hundreds of litres of water on their house at the property in a desperate bid to keep the flames at bay.
From 8pm last night, Mr Marshall, 57, used a hose to keep flames off his home.
A cottage at the front of the property, inhabited by chicken farm worker, Bev Throsby, was not so lucky.
IFive staff at Marshall Eggs were now wondering what the future had in store for them.
Mr Marshall said he was insured for the sheds and machinery but not for the replacement of any stock.
"It's going to cost a lot of money to replace," he said.
"It'll probably set the business back two years.
Offers of help from other egg farmers have flooded in, offering them stock to keep up their supply to crucial customers.
But in the meantime, the Marshalls feel helpless.
"There's nothing we can do at the moment," Mr Marshall said.
"Everything that is critical to the business has gone, and everything that is not, is still here.
"No lives were lost and that is the main thing."
Fire investigators are looking into the cause of the blaze, which is believed to have started behind a neighbouring quarry on Selwyn Rd.
Mr Marshall, however, said its cause was of no interest to him.
"We just have to start again."