WHEELING, W.Va. — After battling flames for hours, firefighters from Wheeling and neighboring communities have corralled a three-alarm blaze at a longtime Wheeling company.

Authorities say they received a call around 10:30 Thursday morning about a fire at the Ziegenfelder Frozen Treat Company plant on 18th Street in Wheeling. Philip Stahl, the spokesperson for the Wheeling Fire Department, said everyone inside the building escaped unharmed and no firefighters were injured.

However, Stahl said the building has extensive damage as the firefighters fought frigid and windy conditions all day to put out the fire.

“This was a very large fire,” he said. “A lot of heavy smoke, a lot of heavy fires. Even two hours into the incident, flames were popping in the building.

“The fire load involved, the wind really kicked it up but the building is completely destroyed. There is a lot of manufacturing equipment outside that has significant damage as well. There is a significant amount of property damage.”

Stahl said the fire started in the office area of the facility, which is an older building adjacent to the manufacturing part of the facility. Stahl said there was not much damage to the factory portion of the company property and said Ziegenfelder’s will speak on their own behalf about future operational plans.

 

During the battle of the blaze, there was worry about the possibility of a leak to the plant’s ammonia tanks.

“In order to be safe we cautioned off and closed off about a two-block perimeter around the facility here,” Stahl said. “We did have to close off part of US-250 because of the smoke, possibly ammonia that may have been leaking. As far as from what I understand, it did not leak.”

The firefighters got the fire under control shortly after 3:30 Thursday afternoon and began working on hot spots.

Stahl said multiple agencies were on the scene with the Wheeling Fire Department as the fire went from a two-alarm to three-alarm in the afternoon. This was due to conditions such as the wind, below freezing temperatures, road conditions, and the fire load.

It was a team effort from all members of the community, according to Stahl.

“There was a lot of challenges involved,” he said. “This is a very passionate profession. They did their job really well. Everybody should be commended on working together as a whole. Not only just the fire departments but the street department who brought salt, all of the volunteer agencies who brought warm drinks and food.

“We are lucky to live in a community where everybody cares about each other.”

The multi-million-dollar Ziegenfelder Frozen Treat Company is a staple in Wheeling and is famous for it’s twin pop popsicles sold at grocery chains across the United States. According to the company’s website, it started in 1861.

The Wheeling Fire Department will be on fire watch Thursday evening to make sure nothing rekindles and then they will begin their investigation into what caused the blaze.

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