La Crosse firefighters remain on scene after extinguishing a fire at the Trane plant on the city's South Side.

The fire broke out in the lab building at 2113 S. 20th at about 6:45 a.m., said Melinda Rowland, communications manager for Trane's parent company, Ingersol Rand.  

The fire was extinguished around 11 a.m., according to the La Crosse Fire Department, though crews remained at the site performing cleanup. 

About 30 employees inside the building escaped unharmed. 

Firefighters had largely contained the blaze by 10 a.m. but continued to pursue pockets of flames in a crawl space under the building's rubber roof, said Assistant Chief Warren Thomas of the La Crosse Fire Department.

Thomas said it was too soon to determine what caused the blaze. 

There were no injuries to firefighters, though personnel from Tri-State Ambulance and La Crosse County Emergency Management were on scene to provide assistance and relief from heat. 

As a precaution at Spence Elementary School a block away, Principal Shelley Shirel ordered the school's air-handling system shut down to make sure no unsafe air was sucked into the building.

"If there are particles in the air, we don't want it to pump them in the building," said Shirel, who sent an alert to parents of the 415 students in the pre-K through fifth grade school about the situation and notifying them that their children were not in danger.

Shutting down the air handlers also cut off air conditioning, but Shirel said, "I would rather be warm than risk any of our kids."

The air was turned back on at about 10:15 a.m.

Fire and emergency officials later gave Shirel the all clear to open windows.

Rowland said lab employees were sent home for the day and the company did not yet know when they would be able to return. Work was able to continue in Trane's other seven buildings. 

The lab is used for product development, Rowland said. 

Because crews from La Crosse are working two active fires in the city, firefighters from the towns of Campbell, Shelby and Stoddard are on call in case any additional fires break out in the city.


For more on this developing story, return to lacrossetribune.com.

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