WAHOO – Smoke coming from a smokehouse brought firefighters to downtown Wahoo on Wednesday afternoon.
Around 2 p.m., the Wahoo Volunteer Fire Department was called to Wahoo Locker Plant in the 100 block of Fifth Street for a fire in the smokehouse.
Firefighters arrived to smoke pouring out of the building and flames inside.
An employee at the scene reported that everyone made it of the building safely and that Wednesday was not the “kill” day at the meat processing plant.
Steve Manstedt of Manstedt Construction was working on a concrete project with his crew in the alley behind the locker before the fire.
“We just saw it start smoking,” he said. “It was just a little smoke coming out at first.”
He stated at first, he thought owner Charlie Emswiler was just smoking some meat.
But it wasn’t long and he knew it was something much bigger. He saw Emswiler rush out and turned off the breaker.
Shortly after that, large puffs of smoke were billowing out of the building.
“It went fast,” he said.
Firefighter crews from Wahoo, Weston, Cedar Bluffs, Malmo, Mead, Ceresco, Colon and Ithaca were called to the scene. Arial trucks from both Wahoo and Cedar Bluffs pumped water on the Locker Plant as well as on the roof of Triple C Storage, a storage unit business housed in the building next door.
Teresa Edmonds of Main Street Styling also watched with anticipation as the fire was brought under control. Edmunds’ hair styling salon is three buildings away from the Wahoo Locker.
Edmunds recalled another fire in that same block about 10 years ago that caused smoke and heat damage to her building.
That blaze created a vacant lot.
No damage reports from the Locker Plant were yet available late Wednesday afternoon.
The Wahoo Locker Plant is home of the “Wahoo Weiner” and other award winning meats.
Last year, Emswiler announced a plant to expand his business at the southeast corner of Fifth and Maple. He has purchased the former Bern hardware and building supply store on the southwest corner of Fifth and Maple. His plan was to move his operation to that location by this fall.
Wahoo Utilities was also called to the scene to address an apparent water main break near the fire hydrant by the Eagles Club, located directly across from the Locker Plant. Water was seen bubbling up through cracks in the street and sidewalk shortly after hoses were hooked to the hydrant.