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Fire crews battle large fire at Whiting Mill in Menasha

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Fire at Whiting Mill in Menasha. Courtesy: Neenah Menasha Fire Rescue
Posted at 11:54 PM, May 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-03 18:43:48-04

MENASHA (NBC26) — Fire crews battled a large fire at the Whiting Mill in Menasha. Police said Monday afternoon that Whiting Paper Fire remains an active and unsafe area to be in. The walls and structure are extremely unstable and could collapse at a moment's notice. People are urged to stay away.

Menasha Police said River Street is barricaded to traffic. Water Street remains open to vehicle traffic but police ask the public to recognize that it's a narrow street with many residences. The Loop the Lake trail remains open for pedestrians but they must remain on the trail.

According to officials at the Neenah-Menasha Fire Rescue, fire crews were called to the scene around 7:30 Sunday night.

At this time, fire officials do not know what started the fire or the extent of the damage. Fire officials say multiple trucks worked to get the fire under control.

The Whiting Paper Mill has quite an extensive history. The George A Whiting Paper Company mill in Menasha was built in 1882 by George A Whiting I and the Gilbert Brothers, Theodore and William, according to UW Madison Libraries. On August 24, 1888, a serious fire ravaged the mill. When the firemen doused a stream of cold water on a hot steel bleaching drum, an explosion occurred, killing 16 spectators and firemen. The mill was later rebuilt by Mr. Whiting.

James Taylor, District 2 Alderman for the City of Menasha, worked at the mill in the late 70s. The Whiting Paper Co. made specialty paper products, like greeting cards and construction paper. After 139 years, the Whiting Paper Mill closed for good in 2016. Taylor was sad to watch the mill go up in flames, he said.

“It's unfortunate that it happened," he said. "But from the ashes rise new buildings."