LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW)-- The La Crosse Fire Department was spread thin Wednesday, with two substantial structure fires that occurred at the same time and a water search and recovery operation for a missing person. The day required all the departments resources, between 65 and 70 La Crosse firefighters and assistance from area departments.
"We've had simultaneous fires, they don't come very often, usually they're not to the extreme that these two were yesterday," said La Crosse Fire Department Assistant Chief Warren Thomas. "So it taxes our abilities but we train for situations like this. Our guys know what to do accordingly and we make it work."
With the majority of fire fighters and vehicles already committed to the Trane Company fire, the La Crosse Fire Department issued what's known as an all call.
"911 will send out a page and let everyone that works for the city fire department know there's an incident happening in town and we need them," Thomas said.
The available firefighters and two vehicles headed to the Northside fire but still more help was needed. So a mutual aid call went out and Onalaska firefighters and trucks responded to Wall Street to assist.
"It's not that common but again it's not that unusual," said Onalaska Fire Department Chief Don Dominick. "We operate with the same standards, nationally accepted incident command system. We staff our apparatus the same and we have the same certifications."
And after the two blazes were under control some La Crosse Firefighters on the dive rescue team assisted in the search and recovery of a missing person.
But the day didn't end there. Many of the firefighters from La Crosse and Onalaska that spent the day serving the community, spent the evening remembering 9/11 and their fellow firefighters, police officers and military personnel.
"Yesterday was just a classic example of how we should never forget," Thomas said. "Incidents happen in our community, all across the county every day. To have a day like that yesterday means a lot and we weren't gonna miss it."
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