Firefighters Were 'Up to Their Knees' in Melted Butter Following a Dairy Factory Fire

The blaze caused butter to flow all the way into a nearby canal.

Melted butter

Food Collection / Getty Images

On Monday evening, a blaze broke out at Associated Milk Producers Inc (AMPI) plant in the tiny town of Portage, Wisconsin, causing a slow but steady stream of melted butter to flow straight into a nearby canal. 

In a Facebook post, the Portage Fire Department stated that it responded to reports of a fire at 9:15 p.m. The intense heat and heavy smoke thwarted initial attempts to enter the building, so two other fire departments were called to bring aerial equipment. 

“The fire started in a room where butter was being stored, and as it was heated, it began to flow throughout the structure,” the Portage Fire Department wrote. “The butter runoff and heavy smoke slowed access to the structure. After multiple hours with many crews, the fire was contained and extinguished before it could spread past the firewalls and throughout the building.” 

The sheer volume of melted butter flowing through the building proved to be one of the biggest challenges fire crews faced. 

“When we first tried to go up the stairs to that part that collapsed, this stuff, the butter was running down like three inches thick on the steps, so our guys were up to their knees trying to go up the steps to get to the top and they’re trying to drag the hose line, the hose line got so full of butter they couldn’t hang onto it anymore,” Portage Fire Department chief Troy Haase told WMTV

CBS Chicago reports that despite the Portage hazmat team’s containment efforts, some butter runoff flowed into storm sewers and eventually clogged the historic Portage Canal. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has been called to assess the butter-related damage. 

According to Dairy Herd Management, a dairy-focused magazine, AMPI is the largest cheese co-op in the United States, with 1,400 dairy farm families and almost 1,000 employees. There were 30 employees in the Portage plant at the time of the fire, but all of them were able to exit the building safely. No injuries were reported. The cause of the blaze is still under investigation. 

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