EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was updated at 3:59 p.m. Friday to include information from an official news release from Protective Services Director and Police Chief Anna Ruzinski
An enormous blaze ignited at Shady Lane Greenhouse early Friday afternoon in Menomonee Falls.
At roughly 11:48 a.m. the Menomonee Falls Fire Department received a full box alarm call for a fire that started in one of the greenhouses on the property. Thick black smoke was clearly visible for miles and the plume rose high above the scene throughout the area. Flames were also shooting through the roof when responders arrived. It was a high-alarm fire due to the fact that fertilizers, gas lines, and other chemicals were present in the building.
Firefighters from throughout the Milwaukee area arrived to assist Falls firefighters on the scene. It appeared the fire had been controlled as mutual aid began to arrive. According to a news release from Police Chief Anna Ruzinski, the fire was completely extinguished by 2:19 p.m.
An employee at the greenhouse, was clearly shaken by the incident as she watched smoke rise from her business. She said everyone made it out safely, but the fire would clearly be devastating.
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"It happened so fast. I think they were going to do some welding in the room. I heard a loud pop while I was in the office, and then there was smoke everywhere," the employee said. "Karl (Hornung) came out from the back and screamed for us to call 9-1-1."
The woman said there was a lot of wood where employees planned to weld, and the blaze quickly got out of control. While on the scene, responders also indicated that there was a downed power line on the premises. We Energies was called to turn off gas lines and electric supplies to the complex.
The greenhouse was filled with Christmas plants, and total damage amounts are not yet available, according to emergency officials.
It remains unclear what started the fire. However, early eyewitness accounts indicate that no one has been injured. Information from the police department corroborates with those early accounts, but the cause remains under investigation.
The MFFD would like to thank the following fire departments for their response and assistance: Butler, City of Brookfield, Elm Grove, Germantown, Lannon, Lisbon, Mequon, Merton, North Shore, Richfield, Sussex, Wauwatosa, and Waukesha County Rehab Unit.
No more information will be made available from the the police or fire departments over the weekend.