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Ag warehouse catches fire

Five departments send firefighters, equipment
By Jane Myhra

Firefighters battle a blaze on a farm near Iola.
Firefighters battle a blaze at a warehouse near Iola.

Five departments responded to a warehouse fire north of Iola at about 2 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20.

Located at N7649 State Highway 49, the warehouses are owned by Chad Malek, of Rosholt, and are adjacent to the Faldet Farms warehouses.

Smoke from the fire was first spotted by Iola Police Chief Robert Prahl. He checked with the Waupaca County Sheriff’s Department to discover there was not a controlled burn registered in the area.

As Prahl drove north of Iola on State 49, the smoke obscured his vision. He immediately called for the fire department.

Dark smoke was billowing out of the back of the building when Prahl pulled into the driveway.

He approached two men, who were standing in front of the building, and asked if they had called in the fire.

They said it wasn’t a fire, but that they were in the process of “gassing” the potatoes inside the warehouse.

Prahl went to the back of the warehouse complex and spotted flames coming out of the roof. He informed the two men that it was a fire.

Several firefighters at the scene said the gassing may have caused a flame in the insulation of the potato storage building. Gassing is the process of exposing potatoes to low levels of ethylene gas to prevent them from sprouting.

When the Iola & Rural Fire Department arrived on the scene, they immediately called for mutual aid.
Responding with tankers and firefighters were Scandinavia, Ogdensburg & St. Lawrence, Rosholt and Manawa.


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