Highland News Leader

Firefighters contain baler fire at Highland recycling plant

Fire Chief explains baler fire at Highland Recycling and Shredding

Firefighters, EMS crews and police responded to a fire call at Highland Recycling and Shredding, located at 329 Madison St. in Highland at 11:15 a.m. on May 7. Fire Chief Rick Bloemker explains how workers fought the blaze.
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Firefighters, EMS crews and police responded to a fire call at Highland Recycling and Shredding, located at 329 Madison St. in Highland at 11:15 a.m. on May 7. Fire Chief Rick Bloemker explains how workers fought the blaze.

Highland and Highland-Pierron emergency crews responded to a fire at Highland Recycling and Shredding on Monday.

Highland Fire Chief Rick Bloemker said the emergency call came in at 11:15 a.m. It was reported that a fire had started inside a baler machine at the facility's warehouse, located at 329 Madison St. in Highland.

The fire began on the back western side of the property's warehouse area.

The fire caught while workers were crushing shredded paper in the machine, according to Luke Harris, the owner of the business. He said the cause was either a piece of metal or a battery inside the batch of paper.

"Usually, it is a battery that causes something like that," Harris said.

Harris said the business has a fire wall and workers were able to get their fire door shut when the paper ignited. Only a small amount of smoke was escaping the facility at the time fire crews arrived.

"We had little concern of it spreading," Harris said.

The firefighters entered the facility from an eastern entrance. Bloemker said the fire remained contained for being inside of a metal building with lots of recyclable materials.

"Everything went very well," Bloemker said.

Highland EMS Chief Brian Wilson reported that the fire was officially out at around 12:26 p.m., while fire crews were working to load up their gear. Bloemker said the only reason why it took a while to get the fire out was because the steel compartment containing the paper had to be torn out of the machine and taken apart so smoldering paper could be doused with water.

"It took a lot of man power," Bloemker said.

Harris said his property sustained no damage, and no one was injured during the fire. The business was cleaned up and operating by about 1:30 p.m..

"The Highland and Highland-Pierron Fire Departments did a tremendous job," Harris said.

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