Fire chief: Combined Locks fire response may be largest in Wisconsin history

Aftermath of Combined Locks warehouse fire
Aftermath of Combined Locks warehouse fire(WBAY)
Published: Jul. 11, 2022 at 5:57 PM CDT
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COMBINED LOCKS, Wis. (WBAY) - Firefighters from across the state say they’re still recovering from the Combined Locks fire that engulfed a paper warehouse over the weekend.

The Combined Locks fire chief said Monday this fire had one of the biggest -- if not the biggest -- fire responses in Wisconsin’s history. He also said he couldn’t be more grateful for the help from 67 agencies and 700 emergency responders who helped to put this fire out.

From Pittsville in the center of Wisconsin to Door County on the eastern edge, agencies from all across the state hurried to Combined Locks Friday.

“We knew right away from arriving on scene that this was something we could not handle by ourselves and that we needed help,” Chief Ken Wiedenbauer said.

Wiedenbauer told us more than 6 million gallons of water from both the river and municipal water supply were used to put out the fire, setting a record for the Combined Locks Fire Department.

“Just given the surface area of the warehouse that we were working with, more water was key to keep everything in check as much as we could.”

Officials say the amount of water they used and the fire walls and fire doors within the building were pivotal to stopping the fire’s spread.

“The employee that was on site who was able to shut the doors behind him as he was running out to evacuate the building, I mean, he can be credited with saving a large portion of that fire from right off the bat,” Chief Wiedenbauer said.

The fire fight lasted 26 hours.

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The fire response grew significantly Friday into Saturday

“It was mind-blowing,” Wiedenbauer said. “It was a huge team effort to do this, and all the agencies from around the state played their own individual part in it and we couldn’t have done this without them, honestly.”

With the fire out and everyone home safe, Wiedenbauer said his crew was resting Monday.

“Crews are resting now and trying to get back to their regular life and routine, and we are trying to put fire stations back together, get fire equipment back to where’s it’s got to go, because inevitably with that many resources on scene stuff is going to get mixed up.”

At this time the value of the damage is still unknown.

What started the fire isn’t known, either, although authorities feel there was no foul play.

Warehouse Specialists says it is already working to clean up and rebuild.

The Combined Locks Fire Department says it’s making plans to work with Warehouse Specialists so when it rebuilds it can make sure the proper protocols are in place to prevent another fire.

”There weren’t any fire sprinklers in that part of the building but they weren’t required at the time that it was built,” Wiedenbauer said. “But fire standards and fire safety have come a long way in the last 40 years. We’re looking at ways to mitigate the fire before we even arrive on scene.”

The fire chief says this was one of the biggest fire responses in Wisconsin history

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