Updated: March 2, 2013 12:02PM
BURLINGTON, Wis. — Dozens of Lake County firefighters joined fire crews Thursday from across southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois to battle a blaze at a food manufacturing plant this city known for its annual chocolate fest.
More than 300 firefighters responded to the 8-alarm fire at Echo Lake Foods, according to Burlington City Manager Kevin Lahner. No injuries were reported.
The fire investigation is just beginning and amount of damage or cause of the fire was available late Thursday. The Wisconsin State Marshall’s office Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms will be assisting in the investigation.
Due the to the cold, fire crews operated on five-hour shifts, with bitter temperatures causing some problems with equipment freezing up, city officials said.
Echo Lake Foods, 33102 S. Honey Lake Road, manufactures bulk egg products for commercial use and employs approximately 300 people at the factory, one of Burlington’s largest employers.
The plant also utilizes ammonia, however the fire suppression measures and plant safety systems prevented a major release of any ammonia, city officials said. The fire was first reported about 6:05 p.m., Wednesday.
Firefighters from across southern Wisconsin, including the city of Milwaukee, were joined in their efforts by fire crews from Lake and McHenry counties in Illinois to extinguish the fire at the 70,000-square-foot plant, officials said. Racine County HazMat response monitored air quality at the scene.
About 50 people who were evacuated from 10 homes and one apartment complex approximately one-half mile east and south of the factory because of smoke inhalation concerns were able to get back into their homes Thursday morning. The American Red Cross offered assistance to those evacuated and provided hotel rooms last night to eight people.
Wisconsin Workforce Development will be at the Veteran’s Terrace, 589 Milwaukee Ave., Burlington, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., February 6 to assist employees oft Echo Lake Foods.
The family-owned company, which began in 1941, manufactures precooked egg entrees, french toast, waffles, pancakes, precooked scrambled and diced eggs and frozen liquid eggs.