FORT ATKINSON — After battling the massive initial blaze and residual fire for more than 96 hours, the Fort Atkinson Fire Department says their operations on the burning warehouse are complete.
No serious injuries or deaths were reported after a warehouse storing primarily military tires went up in flames in Fort Atkinson Tuesday afternoon.
The 5-alarm fire at an industrial park in the area of North Main Street and Oak Street sent large plumes of black smoke into the sky starting around noon. Officials said at a press briefing that two firefighters suffered minor injuries due to the heat.
About 150 firefighters from five counties responded. Fire officials said a fire such as this one would normally require a smaller response, but hot temperatures in the upper 80s Tuesday required additional crews. A second shift of firefighters will be monitoring the flames into the night.
The warehouse was connected to several other industrial buildings, but crews succeeded in isolating the flames to the initial warehouse. That warehouse primary stores military vehicle tires, but also contains storage for chemicals and cans.
Fire officials have decided to let the fire burn, due to a lack of available water, and the building will be considered a total loss. It's for that reason that the chance of discovering the source of the fire will be small, officials said.
About 50 people were evacuated from the area, and officials say they will likely be able to return to the area Tuesday evening. They had been evacuated to the Fort Atkinson Municipal Building.
The American Red Cross has opened a reception center at Frist United Methodist Church, 320 S. Main St., for people who need a safe place to go. Volunteers are providing snacks and water and comfort for those effected by the fire.
Some area residents turned out with packs of bottled water to deliver to the firefighters and other emergency responders.
“We just wanted to make sure everyone is staying hydrated," said Erika Krebs of Fort Atkinson. "I mean it’s, the humidity is how high right now? We want to make sure everyone is staying hydrated so they can keep control of this.”
Another resident, Dennis Verhalen, stood across the street from the fire for hours to watch his son, a Fort Atkinson firefigher, at work.
"Just to check things out, keep an eye as a farther would," he said.
EPA air monitoring will continue for at least 24 hours and the DNR water and run-off mitigation will continue for an undetermined amount of time.