Fire departments from several surrounding communities were called at 6 p.m. to 8600 Green Bay Road to the municipal center’s public works building, which houses snow plows and other vehicles. The fire reportedly began inside a newer dump truck used in snow plowing operations, according to authorities on scene. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Pleasant Prairie Fire units arrived at 6:08 p.m. Minutes earlier, a police officer in the area noted “heavy black smoke” coming from the building, according to Fire Chief Craig Roepke.
Also responding to the fire were Zion, Winthrop Harbor, Beach Park and Newport fire agencies, he said. Bristol Fire and Salem Lakes assisted with a “change of quarters” to cover potential calls while village firefighters were out at the fire scene. The fire was under control at 6:18 p.m. and out at 6:24 p.m., he said.
“It appears that it was a vehicle fire that started in the engine compartment and at this time that’s all that we know,” Roepke said.
“Generally speaking, vehicle fires in the engine compartment spread rapidly. Typically, for a vehicle fire we don’t call all those units, but the fact that there was a vehicle fire inside a structure — that’s the indicator for additional units because if the vehicle sets the structure on fire, now we have building fire,” he said.
Roepke said the fire was contained to the vehicle itself and there was no damage to the structure or “any other vehicle” in the large storage building.
“The public works vehicle storage garage … is a sprinklered building. And the sprinkler system did activate and kept the vehicle fire in check until arriving units were able to extinguish (the fire),” he said.
Damage estimates have yet to be determined. He said the vehicle chassis is “likely a total loss” however, other components may still be salvageable. Public Works Director John Steinbrink Jr. also responded to the scene.
The Prange center campus also houses the village Police Department and 9-1-1 dispatch in a building just to the north of the public works structure, but were not affected by the fire.