A fire Tuesday destroyed a warehouse at a Far East Side factory where wooden trusses and other building components are made, as firefighters spent hours fighting the blaze in subzero temperatures.

All of the workers at Windsor Building Systems, 314 Atlas Ave., got out safely, and nobody was hurt.

“The building is a total loss,” Madison Fire Chief Steven Davis said. “We were able to keep the fire to the one building.”

Sixty-five firefighters were called to the scene at 6:11 a.m., when the temperature was minus 14, and were still battling flames six hours later.

Davis said firefighters would stay at the scene overnight to ensure the blaze didn’t flare up again.

“Our investigation has started, but it could be quite a while before we determine what caused the fire,” Davis said.

The Madison Water Utility said firefighters were using about 2,000 gallons of water per minute to fight the blaze. Fire officials said crews had trouble getting adequate water pressure from the fire hydrants because of the cold. Firefighters rotated in short shifts, with breaks to warm up.

“Weather is definitely a factor in fighting the fire,” Madison Fire Department spokeswoman Lori Wirth said.

The plant was built in the 1950s as the original site of Farm and Fleet. Ben Vadnais, assistant plant manager, said it now is used to manufacture wooden trusses and panelized homes.

“There were some guys working at the time,” Vadnais said. “Everyone is accounted for.”

Fire officials did not have a damage estimate or suspected cause of the fire Tuesday evening.

Bill Novak is a reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.

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(4) comments


geo, keep politics out of it. Firefighters are special people; union or non-union. Get over it.


Often for nothing


Not all Fire Fighters are unionized and they work every bit as hard.


How many wealthy anti-union people would be willing to do a job like this under these conditions. Kudos to our fire fighters and the guys who fix broken water mains.

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