Cudahy plant fire under control, still burning

by Bryan Salvage
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CUDAHY, WIS. — Officials at the Patrick Cudahy meat facility have begun to assess the damage at the company’s production complex near downtown Milwaukee, as well as what portions of operations can resume operating, following a fire that began Sunday night. Although under control, the fire has yet to be totally extinguished and its cause remains unknown.

The building affected by the fire is used for microwave bacon processing and dry storage, while the lower level of the building is used for ham processing. Not all areas of the Patrick Cudahy complex were affected by the fire.

Bill Otis, president of Patrick Cudahy, said it has been a difficult two days for his company. "We can’t say enough about the efforts of all who helped get us through this," he added. "Our thanks go out to the more than 130 firefighters from 15 area fire departments, Cudahy Mayor Ryan McCue, our employees and local community members and law enforcement officials for their help in fostering a safe evacuation. We also are appreciative of the local citizens who curtailed their water usage so as not to hamper the fire-fighting efforts."

For the last 24 hours, company officials have been working from a local command post to monitor the situation and inform employees and customers of the status and next steps. "We hope to know the extent of the damage and what it's going to mean to our operations fairly soon," Mr. Otis said. "At this point, we do not know how the fire started and will be awaiting more information as fire officials begin their investigation."

Mr. Otis added he appreciates how much the plant means to the community and to the people who depend on it for their livelihood. "We will do everything within our power to make sure the plant is open and operating safely as soon as possible," he said. "We are also fortunate to be part of a larger organization like Smithfield Foods where we can rely on some of their other independent operating units to provide product to help us meet the needs of our customer."

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