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Lake Geneva, Lyons fire departments respond to 9-alarm Burlington blaze



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This is an aerial view of the Echo Lake Foods fire taken by Burlington firefighter Kevin Garratt. Find more of his photos on Twitter @kjgarratt. Kevin Garratt.

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January 31, 2013 | 03:53 PM
BURLINGTON - Firefighters from at least 90 fire departments in southeastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois, including Lake Geneva, Lyons, Elkhorn and Delavan, responded to a nine-alarm blaze at a Burlington factory Wednesday night.

"The big one happened in the city of Burlington," the Lyons Fire Department said on its Facebook page last night.

At least 80 people were evacuated from 10 households as a proactive measure in case ammonia or other dangerous gases reached the air, according to Burlington Fire Chief Dick Lodle. Lodle said Friday there was no ammonia emitted.

Starting at around 6 p.m. Wednesday, the fire worsened as the night went on and went from a 5-alarm to a 9-alarm blaze in a matter of a couple hours.

In total, over 300 personnel from Racine, Walworth, Kenosha, Milwaukee, Waukesha, Dane and several Illinois counties responded to the scene.

As of Thursday, Burlington Mayor Bob Miller said the fire, which lasted more than 15 hours, has been contained but firefighters are still checking the area for hot spots.

On Friday, Lodle said the fire was contained and no longer a threat.

Echo Lake Foods, 33102 S. Honey Lake Road, employs roughly 300 people and is one of the city's largest employers.

Miller said in various media reports, including WISN 12, that the fire began in a production area of the plant. City fire crews discovered a significant fire and immediately called for mutual aid. He assured the fire will "affect the city greatly."

No one was injured during the fire, but a couple people were treated for smoke inhalation.

The blaze lit up the Burlington sky overnight, and firefighters worked non-stop to control the majestic flames. Water needed to be pumped from neighboring Echo Lake to help fight the flames. Smoke and gas could be smelled from a mile away.

According to a press release from the Burlington Fire Department, the Racine Hazardous Materials Unit monitored air quality, and the Southeast Wisconsin Incident Command Management Team also provided assistance.

Officials with the Burlington Fire Department have not determined the cause of the fire. However, it is still under investigation with the help of the Wisconsin State Fire Marshall's office and the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms bureau.

According to Miller, workers will meet with unemployment officials next week to discuss their situation. Miller is hopeful the plant will rebuild.

Nearly 2 million gallons of water were pumped into the fire.

Check out our Facebook page, Lake Geneva Regional News and Resorter, for a photo album from the scene, courtesy of the Racine County Scanner: www.facebook.com/LakeGenevaRegionalNews.

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