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NEW INFORMATION: Investigators still looking into cause of lumber company fire

By: WEAU 13 News Staff Email
By: WEAU 13 News Staff Email
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TOWN OF LAKE HOLCOMBE, Wis. (WEAU) - A fire destroyed part of a small town business, and a cause is still unknown.

Six fire departments surrounding Lake Holcombe came here to Walters Brothers Lumber Manufacturing Incorporated, where a fire broke out at its saw mill, shortly after 9:00 p.m. Monday.

“Flames were I don't know how many feet up in the air, but they were just shooting up in the air and smoke and a big glow in the sky,” witness Matthew Valentine said.

“Anytime you have a fire in a saw mill like that, you know it's dealing with a very intense hot fire, and that's exactly what it was. So we knew we had our hands full,” Cornell Fire Chief Dennis Klass said.

“The biggest challenge was they had a silo, a dust collector, and it got into that and that was very hard to put out. But we had an aerial truck from Ladysmith there, that was a big help to put that out.”

No one was hurt and firefighters said they had the flames under control within 90 minutes, putting it out in after six hours. They were able to contain it to the saw mill area, keeping it from spreading to the lumber and pallet inventory nearby.

Tuesday, the owner of the 45-year-old plant, Tim Walters, said he plans on rebuilding, and that his 38 employees will continue working, with some reassigned to different areas that weren't damaged.

After a deadly fire just two miles away last month, many there said they're thankful no one was hurt last night.

“I'm just happy no one got hurt and material things can always be replaced, but lives can't,” Monty Penkert of Lake Holcombe said.

“I hope that they rebuild and get the people working again. We're a very resilient people.”

The cause is still unknown, but firefighters said they didn't suspect foul play. The company said it has insurance and hopes to rebuild as soon as possible.

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TOWN OF LAKE HOLCOMBE, Wis. (WEAU) - A lumber business caught fire in Chippewa County. Our photographer on scene told us it happened at Walter Brothers Lumber Manufacturing on Highway 27 in Holcombe.

Fire crews from several departments were on the scene. Matthew Valentine, a witness on scene says he was driving home to Ladysmith when he saw the huge flames, saying there was a huge glow in the sky.

He told WEAU 13 News he saw a warehouse full of pallets on fire. Our photographer who went to the fire scene, tells us the fire spread to the grass as well so crews had to fight flames on two fronts.

Cornell Fire Department Chief Denny Klass says crews worked for over an hour and a half to get the fire under control. No one was inside the building at the time of the fire and no one was hurt.

Klass says the business primarily makes wooden pallettes and is one of the bigger employers in the area. Klass says, "It has been a family tradition here the grandfather the father and the sons are all working here and they've been here a long time. I'm not sure just how many years but they employ quite a few people its one of the bigger employers on this side of the county so its a terrible loss for them."

The manufacturing part of the building is still operational, because the flames did not reach that area because of a fire wall.

Firefighters said the fire does not seem suspicious, but crews would be out investigating Tuesday.


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