LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) -- No one was injured in a fire at a Trane Co. lab on La Crosse's south side Wednesday.
La Crosse Assistant Fire Chief Warren Thomas said the flames were first reported at 6:50 a.m. He said Trane employees were immediately evacuated from the building.
A news release from Trane Co. said there were approximately 30 employees inside at the time of the fire call. They were preparing to start at 7 a.m. shift.
"Trane Co. personnel did everything right," Thomas said.
Roughly 25 La Crosse firefighters worked to battle the blaze from the roof. Thomas said firefighters cut several holes in the roof to both douse the fire with water and also keep track of its movements.
He said the department's newest ladder truck, which provided a 100-foot platform from which to attack the flames, was particularly helpful.
But Thomas added a thick layer of rubber in the roof made cutting through it very challenging.
Also putting extra strain on the fire department was a second fire, which broke out at roughly 8 a.m., at a triplex home on La Crosse's north side.
The fire department utilized its Mutual Aid Box Alarm (MABAS) system -- which relies on a pre-planned schedule for various emergency scenarios to help first responders aid each other in the event of crises like Wednesday's fires.
Thomas said the Onalaska Fire Department was called in to assist with the fire on the North Side. Firefighters from Shelby, Campbell and Stoddard helped to back-fill La Crosse's stations, which Thomas said would have been left almost empty had it not been for the MABAS arrangements.
Thomas said the department "basically had an all call," in which all on and off duty La Crosse firefighters were expected to help with battling the twin blazes and staffing the stations.
But the department did not have enough radios to handle such heavy staffing. La Crosse Emergency Management provided 10 extra portable radios, which Thomas said were used and "very helpful."
People in the neighborhood of the Trane lab at 2113 20th. St. South said heavy smoke could be seen emanating from the building when the fire was first reported.
Across the street, La Crosse School District administrators decided to shut down the "air handles," at Spence Elementary School, Superintendent Randy Nelson said.
Nelson said the school wanted to prevent any smoke or fire-like smells from entering the building.
"The safety of our children is always our top priority," he said.
Spence's air handlers were re-opened shortly after firefighters declared the blaze more or less extinguished at roughly 10:15 a.m.
Both firefighters and Trane Co. could not provide any information on the fire's possible cause.
Thomas said he did not yet have an estimate for how much damage was done to the building.