County fire departments have a busy weekend
Area firefighters had their work cut out for them this past weekend with the Norwalk Fire Department responding to a shed fire Saturday, a grass fire that evening and the Sparta Fire Department taking five calls since Friday.
The shed fire was on the Muehlenkamp family farm on the corner of Cty. Hwy. T and Hwy. 71 near Norwalk.
According to Norwalk Fire Chief Jim Stoikes, when his crew arrived just before 5:30 p.m., flames were already coming through the roof. About two dozen firefighters spent three hours on the scene, dumping 8,000 gallons of water on the structure.
The shed was a complete loss along with a pickup truck that was parked inside. Stoikes said the pickup's bed was full of chemicals that were going to be taken to the landfill in two weeks. He said it's likely some of the chemicals spontaneously combusted, causing the fire.
Also destroyed in the fire was a PTO generator and two lawn mowers. The wind was blowing the flames toward a corn crib, but firefighters managed to confine the fire to the shed, Stoikes said.
At around 10 p.m. Saturday, the Norwalk Fire Department was called out again to 12546 Cty. Hwy XX for a grass fire that burned about six acres of a corn field. It turned out the fire was in the Sparta Fire District and Sparta Fire Chief Mike Arnold said the two crews assisted each other.
Arnold said the fire was likely caused by logging activity earlier in the day, noting that a log splitter being used was the likely culprit. A tractor at the scene was slightly damaged.
That was the culmination of the Sparta Fire Department's active weekend, which began Friday at 7:55 a.m. when it was called to 919 Hoeschler Dr. in Sparta, the site of the Monroe County justice programs.
Arnold said employees smelled gas and called the fire department before evacuating the building. Firefighters discovered a malfunctioning furnace, which was filling the building with carbon monoxide.
They shut off the furnace and ventilated the building with the assistance of WE Energies.
At 2:35 p.m., the Sparta crew responded to a grass fire on the Jason Burany property at 5628 Cedar Rd., in the Town of New Lyme. The fire had spread into a pine plantation where the trees were "going up like infernos," according to Arnold.
He said the fire could have been disastrous if not for the quick response time afforded by the new Cataract Fire Station 3.
Firefighters were able to contain the blaze to an acre and a half, remaining on the scene for two hours. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
While on that scene, Ft. McCoy called for mutual aid from the Sparta department to help battle an out-of-control prescribed burn on one of its ranges. Department personnel assisted with equipment along with the Warrens, Tomah and Oakdale fire departments, remaining on scene for nearly four hours until the fire was under control.
Shortly after that, the Sparta Fire Department responded to the intersection of East Avenue and Wisconsin Street, where an accident left a battery leaking fluid onto the pavement. Firefighters were on the scene for 45 minutes cleaning up the spill.