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Diesel trucks rupture in Ripon fire

Fire at Hahn Transport Sunday night
Posted at 9:48 AM, Feb 20, 2023

RIPON (NBC 26) — Multiple fire departments responded to Hahn Transport in Ripon after a fire caused diesel tanks on semi-tractor trucks to rupture.

According to the Ripon Area Fire District, crews responded to a report of a fire at Hahn Transport on Hall and Douglas street just before 5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 19.

When police and fire units arrived on scene, the building was fully engulfed in flames and was quickly classified as a third-alarm fire.

The building contained several semi-tractor trucks filled with diesel fuel with the fire appearing to cause several of the diesel tanks to rupture, as reported by the Ripon Area Fire District.

Hahn Transport owner David Hahn said he heard about the fire after a neighbor called around 5 p.m. on Sunday.

"It was shocking," Hahn said.

His wife Debbie Hahn said the fire was already blazing when they got to the scene.

"It just took off in minutes," Debbie Hahn said.

Once the fire department arrived, Ripon Fire Department Administrator Robert Whitaker said it was too late to save anything inside.

“The crew made a good decision to basically say, ‘we're not going to go in that building to fight the fire because of the significant head start in the safety issues that were presented to them," Whitaker said.

Ruptured diesel tanks resulted in diesel fuel being spilled on the ground; the Wisconsin DNR has been notified of the spill.

Cody Heinze, Regional Spill Coordinator with the Wisconsin DNR said much of the fuel likely burned off before it could leak.

"It is pretty common in fires like these that any petroleum products would burn off with the fire," Heinze said. "The risk to the community isn't significant with the information we have right now."

But Heinze said the trucks likely had a combined 1,000 gallons of diesel and some runoff from the fire may have entered an adjacent field.

“We will rely on likely soil sampling to determine the extent of any contamination,” Heinse said.

Despite losing the four semis and the transport building, the company is still doing business.

“We're back to work already this morning and we didn't lose any trailers, which is our biggest part of our business is trailer leasing,” David Hahn said.

And employees are working with three remaining semi trucks.

“Our employees won't miss any work and won't be down at all,” Hahn said.

Hahn said the community has shown lots of support since the fire.

“Just everything— trucks to replace what I have to use, help cleaning up, or anything we need. So it's been wonderful," Hahn said.

The fire was contained and brought under control, but the building is a total loss.

No injuries were reported as a result of the fire.

The cause of the fire is undetermined at this time.

“There's significant damage to the building, which I think is going to make determining that cause challenging for us to safely do that,” Whitaker said.