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Marengo Fire Department still unsure what caused fire at Pride of Iowa sandwich facility

Published: Mar. 1, 2021 at 10:30 PM CST
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MARENGO, Iowa (KCRG) - Two days after a fire burned down much of the Marengo facility of a 40-year-old, family-owned business, firefighters are still trying to determine what started the fire.

Crews received the call Saturday around 9 p.m. of a fire at Pride of Iowa, a sandwich production company primarily serving schools. The Marengo Fire Department, a volunteer force, had to call in backup from the Williamsburg Fire Department, and Marengo Assistant Chief Mark Swift said it took five hours for an estimated 25 firefighters to extinguish the flames.

“It was so involved before we got here that we were really playing catch-up the whole time,” Swift said.

The assistant chief said in his 35 years serving the Marengo Fire Department, he had never battled a fire of that size, a task complicated by firefighters not having an updated floor plan of the building after it was remodeled a few years ago. Firefighters even used an excavator to minimize the losses, which Swift said is rare.

“The fire was so intense and so hot, we brought the excavator in to separate the production facility from the freezer, in an attempt to save the freezer, which we got that done,” Swift said.

Pride of Iowa President Zack Woods said the part of the facility that houses the company’s production, offices, and warehouse is a total loss, though he did not know what, if any damage, the freezer building sustained. Woods couldn’t believe what he saw when he arrived at the facility Saturday night, while firefighters were still at work.

“It was kind of shocking how big the fire was,” Woods said. “I mean, we’re making sandwiches in here. We ain’t got diesel tanks.”

Pride of Iowa employs about 75 people, who produce around 600,000 sandwiches weekly, according to Woods. He said the company will look for a temporary production facility, with its goal to ultimately rebuild at the Marengo site. Until then, operations are on hold.

“This is a mess,” Woods said. “This is a total mess.”

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