ENDEAVOR - The large fire Thursday night at Meister's Forest Products Inc. in the village's industrial park does not appear to be suspicious.

According to the Marquette County Sheriff's Office, the origin of the fire appears to be in an area of the plant where employees were working with a metal-cutting saw.

"It appears that after the employees left for the day, the fire spread from the area where the employees were working and then throughout the production area, causing considerable damage to the building and to the equipment inside of the building," the report said.

The fire is under investigation by the Marquette County Sheriff's Office, the Endeavor Police Department and the state Department of Justice Fire Marshal's Office.

There were no employees at the building at the time of the fire. There were no injuries to the public or to any emergency personnel.

Endeavor-Moundville Fire Chief Phil Wade said an exact cause of the fire could take a couple of days to determine.

Wade said his department, which is located less than 1,000 feet away from Meister's, was on scene about 7 p.m. Thursday and stayed until just before midnight fighting the blaze.

"The building was fully engulfed when we arrived," Wade said. "There were flames coming out of the north side of the building."

The Briggsville, Montello and Oxford fire departments provided mutual aid to suppress the fire. In total, about 50 firefighters were on scene, Wade said.

"One of the problems we had was when it spread to the other section (of the building), it got into the rafters that has a steel ceiling inside - it was a problem putting it out," Wade said.

The Endeavor-Moundville Fire Department returned to the scene about 8 a.m. Friday to check on areas of the building that were smoldering, Wade said.

A damage estimate was not available Friday.

Mark Meister of Reedsburg, who owns the business with his father, Paul, could not be reached for comment Friday.

The company's Web site states the Meister family has been in the log and lumber business since 1935; Meister's opened in 1993.

The business deals in a variety of woods.

Wade said he thought some of the equipment and machines and parts of the building were salvageable.

"The north end of the building is a total loss," Wade said. "There is extensive smoke damage on the south end."

About 15 years ago, a large fire struck the same business, Wade said.

That fire was ruled accidental.



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