With the growing popularity of backyard chickens, the Seattle Times ran a link to an article on a Bainbridge Island website warning about the dangers of chicken coop fires caused by heat lamps being in close proximity with wood chips. The fire chief says that 3 of the 12 coop fires in the last year were caused by this problem.
There is nothing in the article that I really disagree with. It states that the latest such fire just happened June 15th, and that it really didn't need to, because adult chickens shouldn't need a heater, which is true for Bainbridge Island. A cold night over there is somewhere between 35-40 degrees. Now, you do want to make sure your coop keeps the birds dry in that climate.
Over here in Eastern Washington, I do run a heater for my birds anytime it is forecast to be less than 25 or so.
I'm just curious what a burning chicken coop smells like...I imagine it's not a pleasant 'campfire' smell.