Fire causes heavy damage in Chippewa County - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Fire causes heavy damage in Chippewa County


Chippewa County (WQOW)- A Chippewa County company is picking up the pieces Tuesday and wondering what started a big fire Monday night.

No one was hurt, but the fire destroyed part of Walter Brothers, which manufacturers wood pallets north of Holcombe.

"A lot of dust, saw dust, it went fast," remembers Cornell Fire Department Chief Denny Klass.

Dry conditions made it difficult for firefighters Monday night.

"We knew we were going to be here a while when I pulled in," Klass explains.  "It was flames probably 20 feet in the air."

The fire started around 9 p.m. at Walter Brothers Manufacturing in northern Chippewa County.

"It was eerie when I first saw it," points out Entwood Golf Course Owner Kim Haas.

Haas could see flames from the fire from nearly a mile away.

"It looked like something from Moses when he saw the burning tablets being carved.  It was just a pillar of fire going up and then it just got bigger," Haas says.

"It's been a family tradition here," Klaas recounts.  "The grandfather and the father and the sons are all working here.  They've been here a long time.  They employ quite a few people.  It's one of the bigger employees in this end of the county here."

It took firefighters about an hour and a half to get the fire under control.  The company says the part of the building where the sawmill is was destroyed.  But the fire could've been much worse.

"The main part where they make the pallets inside, there was no damage to that," says Klaas.  "They had a fire wall between that and the fire wall did the job."

The fire department says the fire is still under investigation.  No word yet on how the fire started.  Some of the workers were called into work while others were given the day off, but there's not much they can do until the insurance company takes a look around.  Firefighters believe the fire was an accident, but are still investigating.

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