Worker Killed in Quad Plant Fire

LOMIRA, WI—A collapsed automated racking system was suspected as the culprit behind the July 12 fire at Quad/Graphics’ plant here that destroyed most of a 10-story warehouse and killed an outside-contracted worker.

Fire investigators told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the collapse of the Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS) likely caused a portion of the building to collapse, sparking the blaze. Keith Freiberg, 22, an employee with Aero Building Maintenance, perished when the building collapsed upon the vehicle in which he was sitting. According to the paper, Freiberg had just finished his shift with Aero, Quad/Graphics’ cleaning service.

Dodge County authorities later stated that structural failure was the lone logical cause behind the building’s collapse. Sheriff Jerold Witte told the Journal Sentinel that the storage racking system collapsed and triggered the blaze, or the concrete to which the system was connected failed. He added it was too soon to speculate which part of the building failed.

Employees Evacuated

A total of 330 employees on duty were safely evacuated and no other injuries were reported. Only two forklift operators were in the affected storage facility. The fire was contained to Quad’s automated storage and retrieval system, the company said in a message on its Website. The manufacturing facility was unaffected, and production resumed on July 14.

Firefighters worked for days to put out hot spots in damaged printed products roughly 30 feet high and 500 feet in length. Nearly two million gallons of water were pumped onto the blaze between 9:30 p.m. and 3:30 a.m., the Journal Sentinel reported. Another 6.5 million gallons were used to extinguish the blaze on July 15. As of July 18, an estimated 15 million gallons of water had been used, and approximately 50 fire departments from Dodge and Fond du Lac counties had participated in the operation.

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