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The blaze inside a warehouse in the 300 block of Atlas Avenue was called into dispatch just after 6 a.m. Tuesday. The building is a manufacturing facility for Windsor Building Systems and contained material for roof trusses.
Madison Fire Chief Steven Davis said the temperature was 15 below zero when firefighters arrived on the scene.
The Madison Fire Department asked for buses at the scene to keep firefighters warm. Firefighters were being rotated in and out of the cold every 15 minutes.
Davis said rotations off hose lines are crucial for firefighters because there’s a real chance of hypothermia in Tuesday’s weather conditions.
“We actually have city buses that we put our firefighters in and they get to sit down and have a hot cup of coffee and move on from there,” Davis said.
Davis reported a couple slips and falls, but no serious injuries.
Madison Fire Department spokesperson Lori Wirth said that firefighters had gone into defensive mode in fighting the fire. That means firefighters have been ordered out of the building and will only fight the fire from the outside.
Davis said the cold prevented the fire department from aggressively attacking the fire.
Atlas Avenue between Neptune Court and Robertson Road were closed to let crews fight the fire.
Crews have had to go through the neighborhood looking for working fire hydrants, since many of the nearby hydrants are frozen or putting out water very slowly.
In the end, the company’s main office and roof truss building were destroyed, but crews were able to keep the fire from spreading to two other main warehouses.
“It’s bad, but it could have been worse,” Windsor Business Systems President Virgil Wah said.
Wah said the company plans to move some of its operations to a plant in Iowa.
An investigation into what sparked the fire is ongoing.
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