Damage minimal at Evansville grain bin fire
A farmer reported the fire just before 6:30 a.m. at the member-owned co-op, 6631 N. County M. The blaze caused damage in the basement of the grain bins.
Upon arrival, firefighters found smoke coming from the top of the grain bins, but Fire Chief Mike Halvensleben said the fire was contained in the basement of the concrete structure.
The bins created a chimney effect, drawing smoke up and out the top, he said.
Damage was centered below ground in the area that receives grain. Grain is dumped into a hopper and then lifted more than 130 feet before being dropped into the correct bin, said Halvensleben, who also is the transportation manager at the co-op.
Company engineers were on site Monday afternoon figuring out what to do until repairs are made, said Heather Benson, marketing and public relations director.
The concrete bins were about half full of corn and soybeans, she said, but the grain sustained no damage.
No one was injured.
The cause is unknown, and "I don't know if we will ever really know," Halvensleben said.
Workers were processing grain until 10:30 Sunday night, he noted.
Firefighters went into the fire scene cautiously, he said, and first attacked the basement fire. No equipment could reach the top of the 130-foot bins, so firefighters had to climb to the top. A flat roof covers the top of all the concrete bins, so firefighters could open each bin to peer inside with thermal imaging cameras.
The fire comes in the middle of prime harvest time.
The co-op is seeing farmers bring in 20 to 30 percent higher yields this year, Benson said. Most of the grain taken to Evansville is exported either to Mexico or China, she said.
The co-op Monday temporarily routed grain deliveries to its Belleville and Cottage Grove locations before reopening the Evansville site at 2 p.m.
The Mutual Aid Box Alarm System was activated, drawing crews from at least a dozen area fire departments, including Beloit Township, Edgerton, Janesville, Turtle, Clinton, Footville, Stoughton, Oregon, Monona, Brodhead and Brooklyn.
The local American Red Cross chapter helped firefighters at the scene.