A rainbow appears over Echo Lake Foods Thursday morning as firefighters continue to spray water on the food processing plant destroyed by a blaze that began Wednesday evening (Photo by Ed Nadolski)

More than 15 hours after arriving on scene, fire crews continued to spray water on the remnants of the processing plant at Echo Lake Foods. (Photo by Ed Nadolski)

Rainbow brings a bright harbinger to otherwise dismal aftermath

By Ed Nadolski

Editor in Chief

Left in the wake of a more than 15-hour battle against an eight-alarm fire at Echo Lake Foods Thursday was an eerie scene of devastation – blackened metal support beams heavily hung with icicles. These were stark reminders of the destructive fire – both in terms of property and economic impact – and the nasty conditions under which it was fought.

However, as a bright sun rose over Burlington Thursday, rainbows – projected by the prism of the firefighters’ spray – arced over the scene creating at least a small sense of hope that the food processing company, which employs 300 people, and the community would make a quick recovery.

Although flames and smoke were no longer visible as of 9 a.m., fire crews continued to deluge the charred and twisted remains of the metal buildings as they searched for stubborn hot spots at the breakfast food processing plant just off Honey Lake Road.

Mayor Bob Miller said earlier Thursday that the fire was still active and predicted cleanup efforts would take the better part of the day once it was fully extinguished.

As difficult as the fire – dubbed the worst in recent memory and perhaps the worst in the city’s history by Miller – was, now company and government officials must begin the even more arduous task of rebuilding a family-owned company that has been around since 1941 and was among the city’s largest employers.

But judging by the community’s response to the blaze, that task, too, can be dispatched with orderly precision carried out by well-trained, caring professionals.

A lone firefighter walks past the charred and ice-encrusted structural remains of the Echo Lake Foods production plant Thursday morning. (Photo by Ed Nadolski)