Eight-alarm fire finally contained at Burlington food processing plant

CREATED Jan 30, 2013 - UPDATED: Jan 31, 2013

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  • Image by Photo courtesy Seth Oldenburg

  • Image by Courtesy City of Burlington

  • Image by Courtesy City of Burlington

  • Image by Courtesy City of Burlington

  • Image by Courtesy City of Burlington

  • Image by Courtesy City of Burlington

  • Image by Courtesy City of Burlington

  • Image by Courtesy City of Burlington

  • Image by Courtesy City of Burlington

  • Image by Courtesy City of Burlington

  • Image by Courtesy City of Burlington

  • Image by Photo courtesy Ashley Beison

  • Image by Photo courtesy Ashley Beison

BURLINGTON - An eight-alarm fire has finally been contained after 17 hours of burning out of control Thursday morning at the Echo Lake Foods processing plant in Burlington.

More photos of the fire and aftermath

88 fire departments and 200 firefighters have given their assistance to the Burlington Fire Department.

Mayor Bob Miller said Thursday afternoon that the ATF was to join in the investigation of the fire.

"It's still cold at the scene.  I don't envy (firefighters), but I sure appreciate them," said Miller on Newsradio 620 WTMJ's "Wisconsin's Morning News" on Thursday.

The Burlington Police Department evacuated 10 homes and an apartment building, assisting about 50 people.

Those people are being allowed to return to their homes.

The fire broke out just after 6 p.m. Wednesday, and is at 33102 N. Honey Lake Road in Burlington, the site of Echo Lake Foods.

"The fire department discovered a significant fire upon arrival," said Miller.

"The plant was successfully evacuated.  There were no injuries to employees or, so far, to any firefighters."

Hazardous materials teams came on scene because of ammonia and liquid oxygen tanks.

Miller said that the parts of the plant with those tanks have been secured.

Meanwhile, Burlington's fire chief is rotating in hundreds of firefighters from around southeastern Wisconsin, as far away as Milwaukee County.

"We have fresh personnel that we will continue to rotate in," said Chief Richard Lodle.

"That's why the large number of departments that we have called in, the large number of personnel that we've had...We're not rotating out and rotating back in.  When you rotate out, you go home."

He also said that as of 6:00 a.m., they have not have much opportunity to enter the building and fight the fire from inside.

"The majority has been on a defensive mode.  At this point, we're attempting to do an interior attack, if we can get crews in."

According to the Associated Press, Aurora Memorial Hospital said they treated some walk-in patients for smoke inhalation.

The company, founded in 1941, produces eggs and egg products, as well as other breakfast products. The factory has a long history in the Burlington area.

"With the expanded business, a 40 by 40 concrete block building was constructed on their farm property overlooking Echo Lake, located in Burlington, WI," the Echo Lake website says.

"The 'door to door' delivery of shell eggs gradually ended as they acquired a Milwaukee based egg processor in 1949. This acquisition launched Echo Lake into the business of breaking eggs and selling them as liquid."

"This will affect the city greatly.  We will attempt to help them rebuild and re-open the plant as soon as possible," said Miller during the news conference.

"One of the largest employers...it's going to be a loss of 300 jobs for a while."

The company says it will contact its employees about future steps.

There was no initial information on the amount of damage, or the cause of the fire.