Teamwork key in fighting egg farm fire

Firefighters from 60 area agencies respond to a four-alarm blaze at S&R Egg Farm in the Town of LaGrange Friday. The blaze destroyed one of 14 barns that are part of the operation. More than 300,000 chickens also perished. (Photo by Timothy Stein)
Mutual aid from nearly 60 agencies along with water being constantly hauled to the scene from area municipalities were key factors in the Jan. 31 four-alarm fire at S&R Egg Farm in the Town of LaGrange being contained to one building. (Photo by Timothy Stein)

By Heather Ruenz

Staff writer

The Jan. 31 fire at S&R Egg Farm, N9416 Tamarack Road in the Town of LaGrange was a four-alarm blaze. Thanks to the quick mutual aid from numerous departments – as well as a firewall that did its job – the fire was contained to one building.

“We could never have saved the other barns or made it through the night without the help of all the great departments that responded,” a Feb. 2 post on the Lauderdale La-Grange Fire and Rescue Facebook page stated.

The Lauderdale La-Grange Fire Department also expressed appreciation for those who took over after a long night.

“It was nice after our crews were spent from 10 hours on scene to have relief so we could get our (fire) house back in order and get some well-deserved rest, knowing that things were being handled on scene,” the post read.

Fifty-six agencies responded to the fire that started at about 7:30 p.m. that night and was finally extinguished more than 15 hours later.

While mutual aid at the site of the fire was vital, hauling water to assist firefighters on the scene was an ongoing process that lasted for hours.

According to Village of Palmyra Public Works Director Josh Gajewski, tankers were trucking water to the site of the fire from fill sites in four different municipalities; Palmyra, Eagle, Whitewater and Elkhorn.

Gajewski said fire crews took 73 loads of water from the Village of Palmyra fill site, a staggering 200,000 gallons. In conversations with the Lauderdale La-Grange Fire Department, Gajewski said he was told around 600,000 gallons were pulled from Whitewater.

“By the time the last tanker left the first one was coming back,” he said.

Gajewski said when he first saw news of the fire on TV he immediately went in to make sure the tower was full of water, and filling and functioning properly.

“It worked out, everybody seemed to have things down and we pulled quite a bit of water,” Gajewski said. “We stayed on top of it and made sure that they had enough water and so did everyone in town.”

According to numbers posted by the Lauderdale La-Grange Fire Department, nearly 1.2 million gallons of water were trucked to the scene by approximately 370 tender loads that traveled a combined total of 6,400 road miles.

With roads icing over as tankers filled and trucked water to the fire, Gajewski said he was called out by the fire department to lay down some salt.

S&R plans to rebuild the lost barn as soon as an investigation is complete; all other barns remained in full production. In a press release on the company’s website following the fire, Dan Gorecki, CEO, thanked all who helped.

“S&R would like to thank and acknowledge the efforts of all the fire departments deployed and appreciates those sending compassionate regards,” Gorecki said.

S&R Egg Farm, Inc. is a third-generation family owned business opened in 1958 and currently employs 155 people. The company supplies eggs to markets, restaurants and bakeries.

Kellen Olshefski (Staff writer) and Dustin Alexander (Metro News Service) contributed to this story.

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