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UPDATE: Spark from salvage machine cause of Globe elevator fire, $4M estimated in lost wood

UPDATE 9:40 p.m. — A more than 100 year old grain elevator is burning down. This grain elevator, owned by Old Globe Wood, was being salvaged by contractors from Keisow Enterprises for rustic wooden furniture. That’s according to a globe company spokesman.

Photo Credit: Andrew Perfetti

The structure is still burning at this hour. It happened so close to the water that instead of using city water to fight the fire, they’ve started to use water from Lake Superior and the St. Louis River.

“The Superior Fire Dept. remains on-scene at the Globe Elevator Fire. The fire is mostly out. Crews will remain through the night to extinguish hot spots. No injuries have been reported. Damage is estimated at $2.5 million. The cause is under investigation,” according to a Superior Fire Department Battalion Chief.

One of the cranes they were unable to evacuate from the scene also collapsed. All of this happened within the 225 foot radius deemed as the collapse zone. No one is allowed inside that zone.

The zone is so large because the elevator is so tall, about 150 feet. The concerns at this hour are maintaining the containment of the fire within the perimeter.

This is a wooden elevator. The old, pristine wood was being salvaged by a company Monday. We’re told the wood was going to be sold, and used to make furniture. In terms of the total loss, a company spokesperson tells us a conservative number at this hour is $4 million in wood lost.

“Specifically, they were cutting the 2x6s away and there’s a lot of nails there, a lot of metals there and they cut through something that created a spark. That’s what started it. They were there when it started, they called 911 and that’s exactly what we want them to do,” Superior Fire Battalion Chief, Scott Gordon, said.

The good news is that 20,000 feet of wood is saved, and right now that’s what owner of Old Globe Wood Gordy Oftedahl says is his biggest concern.

It is expected the collapsed building will continue to burn for several days. The Superior Fire Department will be on scene for every step of containment.

UPDATE 5:56 p.m. — Crews have now named the source of a fire, which caused the abandoned Globe elevator to go up in flames, as well as an adjacent property.

According to Superior Fire Battalion Chief Scott Gordon, three people were inside cutting pieces of wood, which contained nails and screws, in order to salvage it.

The wood was being salvaged by Kiesow Enterprises, a company from Green Bay, who was contracted by the owner of the elevator.

While cutting, Gordon said the machine crews were using hit something that created a spark, which caused the fire.

Gordon says millions of dollars of equipment were at the scene, including cranes, which crews attempted to save due to containing hydraulic parts.

He says the black smoke was caused by the burning of hydraulic parts.

In addition, Gordon says there was about $450,000 worth of “pristine, beautiful” wood that was ruined that the company had already sold.

Gordon says the communication between the Superior Fire Department, the Police Department, the U.S. Coast Guard, WISDOT, and other agencies were all better Monday due to what was learned during the Husky Energy fire in April.

Crews have been on the scene since the middle of the afternoon on Monday.

Three people were inside the elevator at the time of the fire, but were able to safely escape.

An adjacent property owner also evacuated his home after it caught fire.

Currently, crews have created a 225 foot collapse zone around the elevator, which is about 150 feet tall.

We will continue to provide updates as information becomes available.

UPDATE 4:50 p.m. — Firefighters say they are now worried about the Globe elevator collapsing following a massive fire Monday afternoon.

According to Superior Battalion Chief Scott Gordon, there is a 225 foot collapse zone set up around the elevator.

The elevator is 150 feet tall.

The Superior Police Department is asking community members to stay away from the area as Emergency Responders continue to work at the scene.

Gordon says three people were inside the structure at the time of the fire, and called 911.

In addition, Gordon says on an adjacent property, one person had to evacuate after their home started on fire.

All four people are safe and accounted for.

The company which owns the elevator has not been released yet. Fire officials are estimating $10 million in damages.

Crews are also working on water supply, which they hope to get from Lake Superior and the St. Louis River instead of using city water, as millions of gallons of water may be needed to put the fire out.

The cause of the fire is not known yet.


SUPERIOR, WI — Superior Mayor Jim Paine said there are no injuries as firefighters responded to a fire at an abandoned elevator at North 2nd Street and Banks Avenue.

The historic Globe Elevator is a large wooden structure. In a statement, Mayor Jim Paine said the fire would burn for a while.

The elevator is made from untreated wood and old growth timber, Paine stated.

Paine said the city doesn’t expect much damage beyond the structure itself.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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SUPERIOR, WI — Firefighters are responding to a fire at an abandoned elevator at North 2nd Street and Banks Avenue.

Smoke from the elevator could be seen for miles.

A KBJR 6 reporter says the Coast Guard is also on scene.

This is a developing story. Check back for details.

Krystal Frasier

Social Media and Digital Content Manager

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