Monday afternoon the Appleton Fire Department Responded downtown on 100 West Lawrence street for a reported structure fire. The fire was in an underground parking garage connected to the Appleton Center. Initially crews encountered heavy smoke that was captured in the garage and discovered a fully involved car fire. The heat was intense enough to than activate the sprinkler system. Due to the heavy smoke, the nearby Zuelke buildings smoke alarm system was tripped as well, and this caused Appleton Fire Department units to than need to clear the multi story office building.
(Pictures from the scene)
Photos Courtesy of: Edward Klug
Owners JJ Toppins and Mark Arft lost nine semi-trucks, a passenger vehicle and two trailers in the blaze, but Toppins said the damage could have been much worse.
The company owns trucks fueled by compressed natural gas that just missed the flames, as well as a few trailers containing highly combustible fluids.
“It could have been disastrous,” Toppins said.
Initial reports said the fire started at Fox Valley Truck, 5668 Neubert Road, which is a separate business located on the same property, Toppins said. Fox Valley Truck fixes, repairs and sells vehicles, and Valley Truck Leasing rents and leases them.
The Grand Chute Fire Department responded to the scene around 6:40 p.m. Saturday. The Appleton Fire Department was called to assist. It took firefighters about four hours to put out the blaze and secure the area.
The fire released about 900 gallons of fuel onto the grounds, which the Grand Chute Fire Department Hazardous Waste Team, the state Department of Natural Resources and Clean Harbors are cleaning up.
Despite the recovery efforts, both business are open.
Valley Truck Leasing will purchase equipment to replace what was lost. In the meantime, the company will use semi-trucks from its other four locations to meet customers’ needs, Toppins said.
“We’re still going strong. The doors are open,” Toppins said. “It’s a minor hiccup in life and we’re very fortunate and thankful for our customers.”
The cause of the fire is still under investigation and could take six weeks to determine, according to fire officials.
Toppins thanked the firefighters, police officers and everyone who has contacted the businesses since the fire.
“People reaching out to us today and yesterday is unbelievable. It makes it nice to live in a community like this,” he said.
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