DNR Aiding Cleanup Efforts Following Columbia County Fire

(Portage) The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is helping cleanup up after a fire broke out at Associate Milk Producers, Inc. in Columbia County earlier this week. The blaze at 301 Brooks Street in Portage was first reported around 9:15pm Monday.

The flames started in a room where butter was being stored and as it was heated, it began to flow throughout the structure. Fire Chief Troy Haase tells WMTV in Madison that butter runoff and heavy smoke slowed access to the structure.

“The butter was running down like three inches thick on the steps so our guys were up to their knees trying to go up the steps to get to the top,” says Haase. “And they’re trying to drag the hose line, the hose line got so full of butter they couldn’t hang onto it anymore.”

The DNR reported Thursday that approximately 20 gallons of butter entered the adjacent canal via a storm sewer. Absorbent booms were deployed to contain the discharge and the butter has since been removed.

DNR officials say the storm sewers are currently clear due to the volume of fire suppression water that flushed through them during the firefighting efforts. They add that most of the butter that left the facility exited via the sanitary sewer and traveled to the wastewater treatment plant. Personnel at the plant have been clearing butter out since the incident with the facility operating effectively and without disruption.

DNR officials note that, so far, environmental impacts are minimal. Thirty Associate Milk Producers employees were safely evacuated at the time of the fire.  The cause is still under investigation.

WRN contributed

Photo courtesy of the Portage Fire Department Facebook page