Firefighters battle Burlington, Wis. food plant fire - Dallas News |

Firefighters battle Burlington, Wis. food plant fire

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BURLINGTON, Wis. (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

Firefighters from across southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois continued Thursday morning to battle a blaze that has been burning since Wednesday evening at a food manufacturing plant in southeast Wisconsin.

Firefighters responded to a call at Echo Lake Foods, in Burlington, Wis., about 6:05 p.m., according to a release from the city of Burlington. No injuries were reported.

Since firefighting efforts began, crews have been operating on five-hour shifts because of the cold. Additionally, the bitter temperatures have caused some problems with equipment freezing up, the release said. The plant also utilizes ammonia, however the fire suppression measures and plant safety systems have prevented a major release of any ammonia, and this situation was stable as of late Thursday morning.

Firefighters from across southern Wisconsin, including the city of Milwaukee, were joined in their efforts by fire crews from lake and McHenry counties in Illinois to extinguish the 8-alarm fire at the 70,000 square foot plant, the release said. Racine County HazMat response was also at the scene monitoring air quality, the release said. More than 300 personnel from various emergency agencies have assisted in battling the fire.

About 50 people who were evacuated from 10 homes and one apartment complex approximately one-half mile east and south of the factory because of smoke inhalation concerns were able to get back into their homes Thursday morning, the release said.

The American Red Cross offered assistance to those evacuated and provided hotel rooms last night to eight people.

Echo Lake Foods manufactures bulk egg products for commercial use and employs approximately 300 people at their factory in Burlington, according to the release. The factory is one of Burlington's largest employers. Company officials have informed their employees to not report for work Thursday morning and to wait for company officials to contact them with information regarding the plant.

The cause of the fire was still under investigation, the release said, and the Wisconsin State Marshall's office Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms will be assisting in the investigation.

Authorities have yet to estimate the cost of damage.

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