Sugar Creek fire destroys 40,000 square foot storage building; Many boats, vintage snowmobiles among the lost items


A total loss structure fire September 12-13 in rural Sugar Creek, west of Elkhorn, left a swath of destruction in its wake, including the loss of 10 boats and 50 snowmobiles. era, among others.

According to Elkhorn Area Fire Department Fire Chief Rod Smith, the fire was reported at 8:48 p.m. Monday, September 12 as a warehouse fire at N5895 County Hwy. O to Elkhorn. Units were on the scene for approximately seven hours, until 3:30 a.m. on Tuesday, September 13, according to Smith.

In addition to the Elkhorn Area Fire Department, LaGrange Fire was dispatched as automatic aid.

Smith said the fire involved a 40,000-square-foot facility made up of four pole-style metal storage sheds that had become attached to each other over time.

“When we got to the scene it was completely involved and we already had a roof collapse,” Smith said. “It was pretty much a defensive fire attack from the start… The building was completely on the ground. We had to use an excavator to remove the metal so we could put out the fire. »

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Smith said emergency responders encountered difficult firefighting conditions.

“The collapsing roof made it difficult to get to the fire,” he reported. “Additionally, access to the building was limited…with only one driveway to access it. The other access around the building was very inaccessible due to the five inches of rain we had received the previous day or two, which created real problems getting the device in there.

As the blaze occurred in a rural area with no hydrant, Smith said water “had to be brought” to the scene using water tankers.

During fire suppression operations, County Hwy. O was closed between Sugar Creek and Pierce roads.

Smith said the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS), a mutual aid measure used to deploy fire, rescue and medical emergency service personnel in a multi-jurisdictional response and / or multi-agency, has been activated for the incident, a third alarm for machinery and personnel, and a fifth alarm for river shuttle trucks.

In total, 23 agencies responded to the fire, half of which for soft water shuttles.

“It was pretty much everyone on deck,” Smith said of the fire response. “It went well considering it was a total loss when we got there. The main thing is no one was hurt or killed. Everything else can be replaced.

Engines were supplied by Elkhorn, LaGrange, East Troy, Lake Geneva, Williams Bay, Troy Center, Walworth, Fontana, Jefferson and the City of Burlington, while trucks were supplied by the City of Delavan and Milton and crews by LaGrange, Elkhorn, City of Delavan, Whitewater, Linn and Rochester.

Tenders were provided by LaGrange, East Troy, Town of Delavan, Troy Center, Whitewater, Darien, Palmyra, Sharon, Kettle Moraine, Lyons, Fort Atkinson, Janesville, Bloomfield-Genoa City, Clinton and Helenville.

Ambulances from the city of Delavan, East Troy and Vernon provided on-site availability.

Smith was assisted by chiefs from LaGrange, City of Delavan, East Troy, City of Delavan, Lake Geneva, Sharon, Whitewater, Milton, Williams Bay, Linn, Rochester and Jefferson .

Special units on site included the Lake Geneva Mobile Command, a Walworth light tower, and the Racine Fire Bells, which provide volunteer rehabilitation services to support emergency personnel responding to major incidents in Racine counties, Kenosha and Walworth.

The Walworth County Sheriff’s Department, drone units from the City of Lake Geneva and City of Linn Police Departments and utility company We Energies also responded to the incident.

“I want to thank all of my self-help partners,” Smith said. “We still work very well together and MABAS is how it works these days. Everyone is understaffed, so we have to work together to get the job done.

Noting that he had no dollar estimate for building or contents losses, Smith said the warehouse was uninsured and the insurance status of the building’s contents, including boats, snowmobiles, trailers, pallets and “normal farm type stuff”, was not known.

Although the fire “appears to be accidental”, Smith said the cause of the fire is still being investigated by the Elkhorn Area Fire Department.

“Because of the severe damage, it will take some time to find a cause, if we ever find out,” he said.


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