Nearly 70 fire crews work overnight to put out Combined Locks warehouse fire

Around 67 departments came to aid the Combined Locks Fire Department.
Published: Jul. 9, 2022 at 10:47 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 9, 2022 at 10:50 PM CDT
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COMBINED LOCKS, Wis. (WBAY) - After more than 24 hours, the warehouse fire in Combined Locks has finally been put out.

“My dad woke me up, and said there was a fire, I didn’t believe him because I haven’t seen a big fire since I was little, and the warehouse was on fire,” said Rowen Krueger, Combined Locks resident.

That’s how 10-year-old, Rowen, says he learned about the large fire at Warehouse Specialists Inc. on Friday morning, just up the street from his house, before he and his friend, Thomas, watched crews take on the fire.

“I was biking there [Rowen’s house], there were so many ashes on my shirt just from there, to his house over there,” said Thomas Van Nuland, Kimberly resident.

As we’ve previously reported, shortly after 10 a.m., crews responded to 100 Prospect Street for a report of a fire involving paper pulp bales.

Officials worked through the night, and much of Saturday, pulling everything apart to find hot spots.

“A lot of them had said this is one of the bigger fires they’ve ever seen or been to. A lot of them were pretty beat last night,” Marv Hollfelder, Community Emergency Response Team.

Outagamie County Emergency Management says 67 departments, and more than 700 emergency responders, helped the Combined Locks Fire Department.

“It was amazing to see them work and work together, all the different departments, just great teamwork. A truck would pull in and the firefighters were off, saying what can we do to help. They did have, water was a problem because they had 2 or 3 latter trucks here and they were trying to spray from the top. Then they set up tanks and there were trucks lined up from all over the area, hauling water in,” said Hollfelder.

McKinley Paper Company stored large paper bales inside of the warehouse, which an employee for the mill, Kristi Strelcheck, says all of their paper is now completely destroyed.

“We had a lot of paper and bales of recycling stored in this warehouse. We rent the whole warehouse and have it full. At one end, the first end where the paper was, where the fire started, that was a lot of recycling bales and that’s the reason the end loader had to keep turning the material because that burned so hot. Everything that didn’t get wet, also got smoke damage, so all of the paper is gone,” Strelcheck said.

There are no reports of injuries and the cause of the fire is unknown, but investigators do not believe it was intentional.

Robert Olson, Emergency Management Specialist of Outagamie County, says there were approximately nine engines, 25 tankers, and three ladder trucks on scene.

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