Organic Valley rebuilding after May fire - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Organic Valley rebuilding after May fire

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Photo from May fire at Organic Valley headquarters Photo from May fire at Organic Valley headquarters

LA FARGE, WI (WXOW)—Organic Valley is still recovering from the fire that destroyed the entire west wing of their headquarters in La Farge.

Eleven fire departments, from three different counties, worked for 18 hours to put out the fire.

In the end, the cause was ruled to be undetermined.

But, Organic Valley employees are determined to get things back to the way they used to be.

"The hardest thing I lost was probably some stuff from my kids," Jerry McGeorge, Vice President of Cooperative Affairs, Organic Valley said. "I didn't think about it immediately, but then I realized I had a few things in there and you can't put a price on that."

The price to rebuild after the fire, $6 million.

"One-third was untouched, one-third had water damage, one-third had significant damage," McGeorge said.

They demolished the entire west wing because of structural damage and it will be the last portion they will rebuild.

Crews are already working rebuilding the bluff view office space and cafeteria in the middle section.

"The fire didn't get into this area but the smoke damage," McGeorge said. "Water damage was such that as you can see we basically had to tear everything out of it."

While everything is under construction, he said they may spend an additional $2 million on upgrades.

"Put in some wellness space for our employees," McGeorge said. "So we're looking at a cardio room, locker rooms and that type of thing. The other thing we didn't have that we feel the business needs is a room for significantly larger meetings."

In the mean time, they've had to find temporary office space for 250 people.

"Some are in trailers," McGeorge said. "Some are in Westby, where we were able to rent some space and purchased a building as well. So we find ourselves more spread out which has it challenges but I think we're working through it."

Organic Valley hopes to be moved back into the middle portion of the building in February and in the west wing in May.

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