Neenah, WI mill fire, Dec 1949

Blaze Ruins Neenah Mill

$150,000 Fire Guts Large Downtown Mill; Flames Shoot 50 Feet in Air

Neenah, Wis. - (UP) - A raging fire last night gutted a large mill in downtown Neenah and sent flames shooting 50 feet into the air.

Firemen from four cities battled the blaze at the Meyer-Burstein waste mill 50 yards off Neenah's main street. The fire was finally brought under control at 7 p. m. but Neenah Fire Chief John Zick said it would take at least a day before all smouldering rags in the mill die out.

Zick estimated the damage at $150,000. The fire started on the second floor of the three-story brick building, and seemed to have spent itself in a half hour.

Then passersby noticed flames shooting from the outside of the building and the fire fighters' work began in earnest. Within a short time, Neenah's available water supply was exhausted and firemen had to pump water from the Fox river to keep the flames under control.

As the flames died down, firemen noticed that the south wall of the building was bulging. Zick was afraid the water in the structure might freeze during the night, causing the wall to buckle onto nearby buildings.

Co-Partner J. B. Burstein said the fire started at about 3:30 p. m., in a rag machine on the second floor. He explained tht the plant has at least one or two fires a day, but they have always been drowned by the automatic sprinkler system.

One fireman, Joseph Magalski, 32, Menasha, was injured in the fire. He caught his leg as he was climbing a ladder, overturning it. He was taken to a Neenah hospital.

Fifty employes, all uninjured, escaped into the street after the blaze started. About 1,000 persons watched as Neena, Menasha, Appleton and Oshkosh firemen battled the blaze for almost four hours.

The Sheboygan Press, Sheboygan, WI 8 Dec 1949