Fire destroys BRF area business - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Fire destroys BRF area business

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BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wisconsin (WXOW) - A passer-by called in a fire at a Black River Falls area business, but despite their efforts, firefighters weren't able to save the structure.

The Black River Falls Fire Department was called out to Gerdes Manufacturing at N3410 County Highway X in the Township of Irving shortly before 4am Thursday morning.

When they arrived, Chief Steve Schreiber says the fire was already going strong in the pole barn type building.

According to Schreiber, their priority was keeping the fire from spreading into an attached ranch-style home.  The two people inside the home, the parents of the business' owner, when the fire started were out and unhurt.

Several other area departments were called in to assist with the fire including Hatfield, Merrillan, Hixton, Melrose, and Taylor.

Through their efforts, they were successful in keeping the fire contained.  Chief Schreiber says the home only has some smoke damage.

The business, however, was a total loss.  Roughly 110,000 gallons of water were used in the fire hours firefighters were there.  Damages are estimated at more than $350,000.

The business is owned by Michael and Marteen Gerdes.  His parents, Ron and Sharon Gerdes, were living in the home.

The Red Cross is assisting them with housing needs following the fire, which remains under investigation as to its origins.

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BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wisconsin (WXOW) - Black River Falls Fire Department is calling a Jackson County manufacturing plant a total loss. A passer-by reported the fire at Gerdes Fabricating on County Road X, just south of Black River Falls, around 4 AM this morning. When firefighters arrived, flames were coming from the building. The plant is attached to a home. The fire chief says his crew was able to stop the flames from spreading, just in time.

Steve Schreiber of the Black River Falls Fire Department says, "The building is attached to a single family dwelling. People were inside at the time. They were able to get out. No one was injured. We were able to prevent the fire from spreading into that structure."

The plant's roof collapsed, keeping the crew from putting out some of the hot spots. Black River ended up calling a number of other departments for help. Firefighters have not determined a cause. According to Manta, a business search engine, Gerdes manufactures cargo containers.

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