Firefighters continue to battle an 8-alarm fire this morning at the Echo Lake Foods, a food manufacturing plant in the City of Burlington. The fire broke out last night around 6:00 p.m. There have been no reports of injuries. Fire crews are operating on five hour shifts due to the cold. The bitter temperatures have caused some problems with equipment freezing up. 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 is stable at this time.
About 50 people who live in the area and were evacuated last night have been allowed to go home this morning. The Burlington Police Department evacuated ten homes and one apartment complex approximately one-half mile east and south of the factory due to smoke inhalation concerns. The Red Cross offered assistance to those evacuated and provided hotel rooms last night to eight people.
Wisconsin Emergency Management has been engaged with assisting with providing resources. WEM Fire Services Coordinator has been working with the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) Southeast Region Coordinator to assist with mutual aid. More than 80 agencies from 12 MABAS Divisions (10 in Wisconsin and 2 in Illinois) have responded to the scene. This includes emergency crews from Racine, Jefferson, Walworth, Kenosha, Milwaukee, Waukesha, Dane and Rock counties, City of Milwaukee and teams from McHenry and Lake counties in Illinois have responded to the blaze.
Additionally the State Regional Hazardous Materials Response Team from Racine is on the scene monitoring air quality as there has been some minor release of ammonia residue from pipes. Assistance is also being provided by the Southeast Wisconsin Incident Command Management Team. More than 300 personnel from various emergency agencies have assisted in battling the fire. WEM Southeast Region Director was on the scene working with Racine County Emergency Management to provide assistance.
Echo Lake Foods manufactures bulk egg products for commercial use and employs approximately 300 people at their factory in Burlington. The factory is approximately 70,000 square feet. It is one of Burlington’s largest employers. Company officials have informed their employees to not report for work this morning and to wait for company officials to contact them with information regarding the plant.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation. The Wisconsin State Fire Marshall’s office and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms will be assisting in the fire investigation.