Fire at Wisconsin dairy plant leaves storm drains clogged with butter

ByZoe Sottile, CNN, CNNWire
Sunday, January 8, 2023
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PORTAGE, Wis. -- Bring in the toast.

A fire at a dairy plant in Wisconsin left storm drains and a historic canal clogged with butter, CNN reported.

The fire took place at an Associated Milk Producers facility in Portage on Monday, according to a news release from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

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Approximately 20 gallons of butter flowed into the adjacent Portage canal via a storm sewer, says the department. The butter has since been removed from the canal and the storm sewers were clear as of Thursday.

Environmental impacts are "minimal," officials said in the news release.

"Most of the butter that left the facility exited via the sanitary sewer and traveled to the wastewater treatment plant," according to the department. "Wastewater plant personnel have been clearing butter out of the plant since the incident. The treatment plant has operated effectively without disruption, though some temporary exceedances are anticipated."

The fire started in a room that was used to store butter, according to a Facebook post from the Portage Fire Department, which was first responded to the incident. Butter runoff and heavy smoke made it difficult for personnel to enter the facility. It took several hours and help from other fire departments in the area to contain and extinguish the fire, the department added.

In a statement to CNN, Associated Milk Producers thanked local fire departments and first responders for controlling the fire.

"We appreciate their professionalism and hard work, as well as that of our employees, under difficult circumstances," wrote the company.

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They added that responders blocked the street drains and placed "absobent materials in the canal to minimize milkfats."

An investigation is ongoing into the origins of the fire, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

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