Fire out at Wis. plant but 'there are 300 workers without a job'

A raging fire at a Wisconsin egg processing plant was brought under control shortly before noon today, but Burlington Mayor Bob Miller said its impact will be felt for a long time in his community and beyond.

Echo Lake Farms Produce Company “is one of the largest employers of the city,” Miller said at a news conference. “There are now 300 workers without a job.”

“I have not seen a fire with this impact,” added Burlington Fire Chief Richard “Dick” Lodle, who has headed the department in southeastern Wisconsin since 1992.

Firefighters from 88 departments in Wisconsin and northern Illinois helped battle the blaze, which started at about 6 p.m. Wednesday. Lodle said the firefighters from other companies have been sent home.

The investigation into the cause continues. It started in a 25,000-square-foot production area of the 70,000-square-foot facility. The second shift was working at the time, but Lodle could not say how many employees were in the area. He noted there we no injuries.

The production area, called “the breaking room,” is where workers separate eggs from their shells. The egg is then sold to restaurants, grocery stores and food suppliers, according to Miller.

“We hope to rebuild and reopen as soon as possible,” Miller said. “We want them to rebuild and put people back to work.”

Company representatives were not available for comment.

Lifelong Burlington resident Scott Ebert called the city a "wonderful, close-knit community."

A maintenance man at the Veterans Terrace banquet hall, where firefighters all morning came in to warm up and grab some food supplied by local business, Ebert said many friends from high school work at Echo Lake.

"Hopefully they'll be able to get back to work," he said.

Miller noted that a meeting is scheduled for workers on Wednesday, when company officials will explain benefits that are available to them.

pnickeas@tribune.com
Twitter: @peternickeas

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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