50 local fire departments battle Racine County recycling plant blaze

Posted at 6:12 PM, Jul 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-02 19:12:14-04

TOWN OF NORWAY -- Firefighters continue to battle smoldering debris a day after a massive fire broke out at a recycling plant in the town of Norway.

The fire started around 1:00 p.m. Sunday at Johns Disposal. Surprisingly, the stifling heat was not the biggest obstacle for around 50 responding fire departments. 

More than 24 hours after toxic black smoke billowed over the town of Norway, fire departments from all over the area continue to bring water by the truckload. 

“Yesterday there were three times as many as there are today,” said Kansasville Fire Lt. Ed Kalbas. 

Kalbas was one of the first assisting crews to arrive at Johns Disposal. He was immediately assigned to water duty. 

"Yesterday I think we refilled 22 times and today we’re up to about 12, 13, 14, something like that,” Kalbas said. 

That’s because there aren’t any fire hydrants in the area. 

"It’s just part of rural living," Kalbas said. "Water mains can’t reach everywhere." 

Wind Point Fire Chief Rob Robins is in charge of overseeing around 50 neighboring fire departments. 

“We cooled the outside, but did nothing to the inside, you couldn’t get at it,” Robins said. 

Robins said the facility has sprinklers inside, but all they could do was keep the building intact. Fire crews knocked down the siding to get to the root of the fire, smoldering cardboard, plastics and glass. 

"It’s just a lot of smoke, a lot of heat, and again, because we couldn’t get at it, that’s where the challenge was," said Robins. 

Fire crews are still trying to determine the cause of this fire. Robins said the large plant is likely a total loss.