Thick, black smoke continued to billow through the air on the north end of Milaca at about 9 a.m. Thursday, 11 hours after a fire rocked the site of one of the city’s largest manufacturers.
It was 9:57 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15 when the county’s 911 center received a call from within the Coin-Tainer facility at 214 Eighth Street Northeast in Milaca, a manufacturer of coin wrappers and other currency-handling products.
Employees were working the second shift when the fire broke out, Milaca Fire Chief Craig Billings said.
“They said there was an explosion,” Billings said. The explosion was then followed by fire.
Firefighters from Milaca, Princeton, Foreston, Foley and Onamia responded to the scene. They fought the blaze for about five hours, clearing the scene at about 3 a.m.
Large bales of paper used in the production of the paper rolls and 55-gallon drums of solvents helped fuel the fire.
By the time things were all said and done, the nearly block-long building was a total loss. The back of the building (looking from 10th Street NE) collapsed and the roof had fallen down upon it. The windows on the front of the building (the eighth street side) were completely blankened.
The Milaca Fire Department was called back to the scene at 6:15 a.m. Thursday because CenterPoint Energy was having problems with a gas meter.
At 8:08 a.m. the fire department was called out again, this time because it was believed that the fire had rekindled.
That wasn’t the case, however, and the call was canceled.
On Thursday morning, the fire was still burning. There were many “hot spots” that remained. The building was going to be allowed to burn until it is safe to extinguish.