Firefighters use 500,000 gallons of water on Northside La Crosse fire

Fire officials in La Crosse continue investigation into Alter Metal Recycling fire last Friday
Alter Scrap Fire Folo

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – Firefighters continue their search for a cause for Friday evening’s fire on La Crosse’s Northside. Crews used half a million gallons of water to put the fire out.

Last Friday La Crosse fire crews fought an industrial fire at Alter Metal Recycling in the La Crosse Industrial Park on the Northside. The thick black smoke shot in the air came from, what La Crosse Fire Department officials confirm, were 100 cars burning in a scrapyard. The smoke was seen clear as day on News 8 Now’s City Cam.

The combination of the wind and scrap material meant this situation had the potential to become very dangerous. La Crosse Fire officials tell News 8 Now, investigators are working to find the cause. An official with the Wisconsin DNR says they are aware of the situation and will monitor it moving forward as needed.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration vehicle fires can produce toxic gases. Car and trucks are made of many synthetic materials that emit harmful, if not deadly, gases when they burn. A main byproduct of fires is a lethal concentration of carbon monoxide, which is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas.

A vehicle fire can generate heat upward of 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep in mind that water boils at 212 degrees.

A lot of these materials and gases encased in the black smoke Friday largely depends on what parts of the cars were still present at the time. Xcel Energy shut down the powerlines in that stretch over the scrapyard to prevent an additional hazard.

Officials say the water used appeared to be contained within the scrap yard. Fortunately, no injuries happened Friday. Fire officials say more information about the fire’s cause and cleanup efforts will come this week. Firefighting foam was not used in this fire officials say. Xcel Energy says no customers lost power due to the incident. They are working to fix minor damage to a powerline poll nearby.